Skip to main content

DOMS - Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

After your first workout, you might find yourself facing a familiar but often unwelcome sensation – muscle soreness. This discomfort is commonly known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). While it might leave you reaching for the ibuprofen, understanding the science behind DOMS can help you navigate through the discomfort and optimise your recovery. 

The first thing to understand is that getting DOMS is totally normal. It’s just your body’s way of saying ‘don’t leave it so long next time!’. It doesn’t mean you’ve done something wrong and, whilst it totally sucks, it most certainly isn’t something that will happen every time you work out.

No one would bother (except the rare few who relish needing help getting off the loo) if that were the case!

What is DOMS?

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness is the pain and stiffness that often develops a day or two after an intense or unfamiliar physical activity. Contrary to the immediate soreness felt during or right after a workout, DOMS has a delayed onset, typically peaking within 24 to 72 hours post-exercise.

Why Does DOMS Happen?

A little bit of science

DOMS is a result of microscopic damage to muscle fibres during exercise. This damage, particularly to the muscle cell membrane, prompts an inflammatory response and the release of various chemicals, such as prostaglandins and cytokines. Additionally, the mechanical stress on the muscle can cause tiny tears in the muscle fibres, leading to inflammation and soreness.

This inflammation triggers pain receptors, causing the characteristic discomfort associated with DOMS. Eccentric exercises, which involve lengthening the muscles under tension (e.g., lowering a weight slowly), are particularly notorious for causing DOMS. 

So what to do?

These are the key steps for minimising the impact of DOMS on your daily life:

Active Recovery

It seems counterintuitive but the absolute worst thing you can do is nothing. Instead, you should do some light, low-intensity exercises on days following your workout. Activities like walking help increase blood flow to the muscles, promoting healing without causing additional stress.

And you absolutely should go to your next session. If you’re sore please tell your coach at the start and just take it easy. It’s like a miracle cure and you’ll be much better in the days after.

Hydration and Nutrition

Staying hydrated is crucial for optimal muscle function and recovery. Adequate protein intake is also essential, as protein supports muscle repair and growth. Include proteins (like chicken, beef, soya, tofu) and healthy fats in your meals to provide your body with the necessary nutrients.

Rest and Sleep

Allow your body ample time to recover by getting sufficient sleep. During sleep, the body releases growth hormone, which aids in muscle repair and regeneration. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night.

We’ll see you at the next session!