Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

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What Is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) and How Can It Be Managed?

 What Is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) and How Can It Be Managed?

Muscle pain that appears after you've worked out is known as delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS). It usually begins one or two days after a workout. During a workout, you will not experience DOMS. Muscle soreness that occurs during or shortly after a workout is a different type of muscle soreness. Acute muscle soreness is the term for it.

Acute muscle soreness is the burning sensation you get in your muscles during a workout as a result of metabolites accumulating quickly during intense exercise. It usually goes away as soon as you stop exercising, or within a few days. Continue reading to learn more about DOMS, including its symptoms, causes, and treatments.

Is it a case of DOMS?

DOMS symptoms usually appear 12 to 24 hours after a workout, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. The pain will usually peak one to three days after your workout and then should subside.

Symptoms of DOMS to be aware of include:

  • muscles that are sensitive to touch
  • Swelling in the affected muscles limits range of motion due to pain and stiffness when moving.
  • muscle exhaustion
  • muscle strength loss in the short term

What are the causes of DOMS?

High-intensity exercise can tear your muscle fibers into tiny, microscopic tears. Your body reacts to the damage by increasing inflammation, which can cause muscle soreness to appear later. DOMS can be caused by almost any high-intensity exercise, but eccentric exercise, in particular, is a common cause.

When you do eccentric exercises, you tense a muscle while lengthening it. An eccentric movement is, for example, the controlled downward motion you make as you straighten your forearm after a biceps curl. Running downhill causes your quads to tense up, which is also an eccentric movement.

Is DOMS an indication of a successful workout?

Some people believe that unless you are extremely sore after each workout, you are not improving your fitness. Is this, however, correct? No. You're more likely to get sore when you start a new exercise routine or push your limits. However, as you continue to exercise, your body adapts.

You may become less sore with each workout, but that in no way indicates that you aren't working hard enough or that you aren't gaining fitness from those workouts.

Continue to move to relieve sore, stiff muscles.

When DOMS strikes, you may be tempted to rest and avoid all exercise and movement, but unless the pain and stiffness are severe, sitting on the couch for the day will only make things worse, not better. Pay attention to your body. If your DOMS is severe, you may need to take a full day off to allow your muscles to heal.

When you're sore, you should avoid doing any type of high-intensity cardio or power lifting. This could make your DOMS symptoms worse and cause you to take longer to recover.

Consider incorporating some light movement into your day. It won't hasten your recovery, but it might help with the pain. Gentle yoga, low- to moderate-intensity walking, cycling, or swimming are all good ways to keep your muscles moving.

How to Deal with DOMS

While the only cure for DOMS is time, you can take steps to alleviate the pain and stiffness while you wait for your muscles to heal.

The results of the research are mixed, and more research is needed. According to some findings, the treatments and self-care steps listed below may help to alleviate the discomfort.


People who got a massage 24 hours, 48 hours, or 72 hours after an intense workout reported significantly less soreness than people who didn't get a post-workout massage, according to a 2017 review of several studies. Getting a massage 48 hours after a workout appeared to be the most effective.

You may not be able to get a massage after every workout, but you can try self-massage on your:

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Apply some oil or lotion to the area and knead, squeeze, and gently shake your muscles to massage them.

Using a foam roller immediately after a workout can also help prevent DOMS.

Topical analgesics are a type of analgesic that is applied to the

Topical analgesics are pain relievers that are applied to the skin. Topical analgesics containing menthol Trusted Source and arnica-based products may help to alleviate DOMS pain. These products can be used topically on the inflamed area. Always follow the directions on the package for how much and how often to apply.

Bathe in ice water

A review of studies published in 2016 A 10- to 15-minute full-body immersion in a cold water bath (50–59°F or 10–15°C) was found to reduce the severity of DOMS, according to Trusted Source.

For competitive athletes, cold baths have become a popular self-treatment.

Do over-the-counter analgesics work?

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications, such as ibuprofen (Advil), don't seem to help with DOMS pain, according to a study published in 2000.

When should you seek medical attention?

DOMS almost never necessitates a trip to the doctor. If the pain from DOMS prevents you from doing your normal daily activities, the American Council on Sports Medicine recommends that you see a doctor or nurse practitioner.

If you experience any of the following symptoms, you should seek medical help right away:

Your DOMS is more than 7 days long.

You have severe swelling in your arms and legs, and your urine is unusually dark.

Sharp pain, muscle spasms, numbness, and tingling are not the same as muscle soreness, which is a dull ache. If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your doctor right away.

Is it possible to avoid DOMS?

You may not be able to completely avoid DOMS, but you can take steps to reduce its severity. Consider the following suggestions:

  • Keep yourself hydrated. According to one study Men who exercised in hot, humid weather had a significant reduction in muscle soreness when they drank water before, during, and after exercise, according to Trusted Source.
  • Warmup. Spend 5 to 10 minutes stretching dynamically before each workout. Wait until after your workout to do static stretching.
  • Allow yourself to relax. A 20-minute cool down of low-intensity cycling after a lower-body strength training session reduced quadriceps muscle soreness two days later, according to a 2012 studyTrusted Source. Finish your warm-up with some static stretching. It won't help with DOMS, but it can help with joint and muscle flexibility.
  • Take it easy. Step up the intensity of your workouts one small step at a time. This will allow you to safely increase your strength and endurance while reducing the effects of DOMS.

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