Staying fit is very important and working out is one great way to get your muscles working. But your greatest enemy after every workout? It’s soreness that comes after. You might not experience it directly after moving your muscles, but this is felt at least 12 to 24 hours after your workout. It’s common to experience from everyone who works out, but there are some steps you can take to avoid this and find relief completely.

Also, in that period, you might be experiencing DOMS. If you are new to the fitness world, you might haven’t heard this before. And, this post is dedicated to you, discovering what DOMS is and how you can resolve it.

What is DOMS or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness?

Let’s first define DOMS. DOMS or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness is what you call the muscle pain you feel after a workout, a high-intensity workout, a physical activity, or any activity that places unaccustomed loads on muscle. You may feel delayed soreness after 12 to 24 hours. You may feel the greatest pain after 24-72 hours. It can be a dull and aching pain in particular areas you’ve put much tension on during the workout, often accompanied by tenderness and stiffness.

By the way, if you felt muscle pain immediately after you’ve worked out, that is different. It is called acute muscle soreness.

One common misconception about this is that a build-up of lactic acid causes it, but actually, it is caused by the lengthening of such muscles that cause trauma to the muscle fibers. It is why this often happens after a strenuous and unaccustomed workout, and this is somehow how your muscles adapt to the new tensions it was introduced to.

What causes DOMS?

One type of exercise, called eccentric exercise, refers to the lengthening of particular muscles. It refers to workouts that cause you to contract or put much tension in a specific muscle area to achieve a form or movement. Often this is experienced in high-intensity workouts, which in turn causes microscopic tears in your muscle fibers. 

It usually happens when the muscles are given a workout type and put on so much stress (which they’re not used to). The body then responds by increasing inflammation, later on causing the Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. 

Based on the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), many types of physical activity can cause DOMS. Below are the examples of activities that may cause DOMS:

What is DOMS and How to Resolve It?

  • Strength Training Exercises
  • Jogging
  • Walking down the hills
  • Step Aerobics
  • Jumping

As mentioned earlier, these activities cause the muscle to lengthen each time the force is applied or known as eccentric muscle action. The severity of the soreness will depend on the force applied to the muscles.

What are the symptoms of DOMS?

The signs and symptoms of DOMS may begin to occur after 12 to 24 hours of work-out, and pain intensifies after 24 to 72 hours. Based on an article from the Journal of Athletic training, DOMS can have the following signs and symptoms:

  • Dull, diffuse pain and tenderness on the exercised muscle
  • Stiffness on the exercised muscle
  • Swelling within the affected muscles
  • Decreased strength on the exercised muscles

These signs and symptoms may last about 1 to 4 days. The soreness will depend on the intensity and duration of the exercise.

Who May Experience DOMS?

DOMS can impact just about everyone, from beginners to expert athletes or simply people who have not worked out in a long time.

So no matter your fitness level, if you turn up your workout speed, perform eccentric exercises, or try a new style of exercise that your body is not used to, DOMS will strike.

Is having DOMS a good thing?

You’re more likely to get sore when you begin a new workout routine or test your limits. Yet, the body adapts as you keep working out. Some people believe that only when you get sore after every workout is how you determine if the workout is working. 

But, since your body adapts eventually, DOMS is not the particular sign to look for. It’s how your body feels and is toned soon after many sessions of workout. So to speak, when you don’t feel as sore as when you first started, that doesn’t mean your workout is not enough, or you’re missing out on the fitness gains.

Can DOMS be prevented?

While being sore after a workout may seem like an expected outcome, DOMS can be prevented by doing activities before and after a high-intensity workout. One way to avoid it is to start your workout with a light warmup routine. It can reduce the chance of a DOMS occurring, and when it does, it can help reduce the pain. 

After your workout, take some time to cool down and stretch for a few minutes to reduce the possibility of having DOMS. Another good tip is to contrast the temperature of your shower after a workout – this is to alternate vasodilation and vasoconstriction of the muscles’ blood supply to guarantee that nutrients from the blood flow are transferred to the muscles.

How do you treat DOMS?

Rehydrate or Stay Hydrated

Electrolyte imbalance may lead to muscle discomforts such as spasms, weakness, twitching, cramps, or convulsion. It is the reason why you need to stay hydrated throughout your exercise. A straightforward way to keep your hydration rate up is to keep a water bottle with you when exercising and take a drink of water for every finished set or every five minutes of cardio you do, such as on a treadmill.

Getting a Massage

Massage plays a vital role in minimizing discomfort. You can apply massage by rubbing your calves, hamstrings, quads, biceps, and so on to help relieve DOMS.

In a study, although it had no effects on muscle function, massage therapy is seen as effective in relieving DOMS by about 30% and reducing swelling.

In addition, a 2018 study shows that massage is the most effective method for reducing DOMS and perceived fatigue.

Topical Analgesics

Products intended to help alleviate pain are topical analgesics. Topical analgesics based on menthol and those with arnica can help ease the pain of DOMS. It is possible to apply these products topically to the sore region. Often follow packaging guidelines as to how much to add and how often.

A randomized control trial suggests that topical analgesics can help reduce the pain, then accompanied by an increase in corticospinal inhibition.


Sleep is a potent tool for preventing DOMS and building muscles and is also essential for a wellness lifestyle. In the deep phases of sleep, muscle-building chemicals such as human growth hormones are released naturally by our bodies. To help the body to heal from exercise, strive for a minimum of 7 hours of sleep.

Cold Bath 

2016 Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis shows that Cold Water Immersion is slightly better than passive recovery when it comes to managing muscle soreness. Also, having a water temperature of 11 and 15 °C and immersion for about 11-15 minutes can improve. It is the reason why you can observe athletes having some cold baths.

Heat Therapy

2017 randomized controlled trial found out that there is a reduction in muscle soreness with the application of low-level temperature heat wraps left for about 8 hours. The heat wraps are applied immediately after a heavy exercise. Also, it was found that there is a benefit with using heat for 24 hours – but just to a smaller extent.

Light Exercise

Like stretching and small warm-up routines, light exercise can also help relieve DOMS and reduce muscle pain. 

2011 study shows that light concentric exercise has a temporarily analgesic effect on DOMS. However, it has no direct impact on recovery from eccentric exercise.

Should I exercise with DOMS?

You can exercise with DOMS. However, you may feel uncomfortable at the beginning. The soreness may go away after warming up the muscles, but it may be most likely return after exercising. So, if you feel that it is hard to exercise, you may relax for a moment until the soreness is gone.

When Should I Seek Medical Help?

DOMS rarely requires you to have a quick trip to the hospital. However, like any other condition, you need to seek medical assistance. Medical help is a must, especially when the pain stops you from doing your daily activities. 

Also, if your DOMS has:

  • exceeded seven days
  • caused your urine to go abnormally dark
  • induced abnormal swelling in muscle areas

Then you should seek medical help right away. It is essential to consult a medical professional to make sure that your body is still healthy. Also, it can keep you on track.

Need some help with DOMS?

We know how annoying if you experience pain, primarily when it affects your daily life. But, don’t worry, we are here to help you.

At Evergreen Rehab and Wellness, we have skilled and experienced practitioners that can help you be back on track. As recommended earlier, getting massage therapy can help you relieve the soreness, but before that, a thorough analysis will be done to check the real cause of your muscle pain, if it is DOMS.

Ou registered massage therapist in Coquitlam is always ready to empower you to live a healthy, natural, and pain-free life. Let’s help you bring out your best self.

Book Online Today.

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