DOMS-Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

Article By:

Urvashi Agarwal


Is climbing stairs, after a gruelling session of legs workout becoming a “Herculean” task for you?
Can’t sit on a chair without moaning in pain?
Can’t lift a spoon ‘coz you worked out those arms in the gym yesterday?
So, you have done a strenuous workout. Next morning, when you wake up and try to move that particular body part ( could be biceps, chest, back or legs) and you feel like you have been hit by a truck. Welcome to the world of DOMS i.e. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness!

DOMS is defined as a pain or feeling of soreness which develops after an intense or unfamiliar exercise.

It’s particularly prevalent if:
-An exercise has an unfamiliar component.
-Doing a completely new workout.
-Doing exercises with eccentric contractions.
-Doing a high intensity workout For ex: Plyometrics, Cross fit, strenuous strength training session etc.

Such exercises cause microscopic tears in your muscle fibers. Your body responds to this damage by increasing inflammation, which may lead to a delayed onset of soreness in the muscles.
DOMS tends to kick in from as soon as 12 to 24 hours post exercise and peaks around 48 hour mark, though there is some individual variation of this timeline. It’s particularly bad/ inhibiting for lower body. However, DOMS can occur anywhere in the body that has been recently exposed to
unfamiliar or intense physical activity.
DOMS doesn’t require any specific treatment and disappears in 3-5 days.

Some symptoms to watch out for are:
-Muscle pain and tenderness
-Tightness and stiffness
-Compromised range of motion due to pain for the affected muscles
-Swelling in that particular muscle
-Short term loss of muscle strength

Here are 10 tips on how to tackle DOMS:

1. AVOID IT: Yes! You read it right. Avoid having DOMS by going strategic with your workouts and doing them in the correct form. Do your workouts at a scalable level. Getting strong is a gradual process. Please don’t be in a hurry to lift heavy weights or to do strenuous workouts. Listen to your body.

2. STRETCHES: Have you ever taken a road trip for 3-4 hours? Don’t you stretch when you come out of your vehicle? It helps in circulating blood in the entire body and then you feel normal. So, do some dynamic stretches religiously before every workout and on sore muscles.

3. TLC and NUTRITION: Now that you have that pain, give your body some love. I can’t stress it enough. After your workout, you have literally depleted, fatigued and damaged your muscles and they need proper nutrition. Protein after the workout and especially immediately post training, delivers the muscles more amino acids for rebuilding at a time when muscle repair/synthesis has its greatest potential. Without supplying protein at this point the body will not maximize its repair and rebuilding process thus limiting the gains from exercise. Carbohydrates are equally important to the pre/post exercise formula too. Optimum quantity of carbs also help in replenishing the depleted glycogen levels in your body.

4. COLD THERAPY: Taking a cold bath after a workout is very common in athletes. Cold exposure following a hard workout is an effective method to reduce tissue swelling due to muscle breakdown and help decrease inflammation. Take a cold shower or go swimming in the pool.

5. HEAT THERAPY: Applying heat after 24 hours will dilate the blood vessels, promote blood flow, and help sore and tightened muscles relax. Some experts also advice alternate hot and cold therapy
for fast recovery.

6. GENTLE TISSUE MASSAGE: A gentle tissue SELF ( so you know how much pressure to apply) massage after exercise has been shown to increase blood flow to muscles and speed up the removal of inflammatory chemicals that produce soreness.

7. SLEEP AT NIGHT- Your muscles don’t grow while you are working them out. They don’t grow after you consume all the protein in the world. Muscles grow when you are sleeping and that when the Growth hormone is naturally released, improving muscular recovery and regeneration. In simple terms, when you sleep, you recover, and when you recover you replace, repair, and rebuild—all of which are needed for optimal recovery.

8. HYDRATE: I implore you to drink lots of water. It helps greatly in flushing out toxins from your body.
Dehydrated body = delayed recovery.

9. ACTIVE RECOVERY: Active recovery calls for any low intensity activity which raises your heart rate a tad up and the improves the blood circulation, thereby flooding the muscles with nutrients and clearing out metabolic waste. It expedites the recovery process and helps the body in returning to pre-training levels of function and performance.

10. FOAM ROLLING: One of the best methods to reduce DOMS is to use a foam roller. Foam rolling helps in releasing tension and ease muscular discomfort. Just 10-20 minutes will lead to a dramatic improvement to your recovery time.

Hoping that the above tips will help you in recovering from DOMS. Whatever you do but please don’t stop working out. Don’t let DOMS discourage you.