Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

by Jen on April 13, 2012

Say that five times fast!

What is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) you ask?

It’s the feeling of muscle pain, soreness, or stiffness you get 12 to 48 hours after a tough workout.

For example, on Monday morning, I did an intense BodyPump workout.  I hadn’t done that workout in a couple of weeks so my muscles weren’t used to it.  On Tuesday morning, I felt pretty good, but as the day went on, my muscles started to feel sore and stiff.  And by Wednesday morning, all I could say was, OUCH!

But I didn’t let that stop me from working out.  Actually, working out helped me feel better!

Here are some suggestions to help recover from DOMS:

  • Active recovery: performing low-intensity, low-impact exercise will help increase blood flow and diminish muscle soreness.
  • Gentle stretching: sometimes a nice gentle stretch will help your muscles feel better.
  • Massage: who doesn’t like a nice massage to help loosen your tight muscles.
  • Ice bath: I’ve heard many marathon runners and pro-athletes recommend an ice bath to reduce muscle soreness.  However, I’m not sure I would willingly jump in a bath of ice!
  • Foam rolling: I’ve had some success with using a foam roller on sore muscles.  But the key is knowing how to use one properly.

Notice that “complete rest” is not on that list!  That’s because it’s one of the worst things you can do if you are feeling DOMS.  You need to keep the blood flowing to those muscles so they can recover quicker and build up to be stronger.

Even though muscle soreness can be a pain, literally, it can actually be a good thing.  It means you are breaking down your muscles so that they can grow back stronger!

I like to switch up my workout program every 30 days. This keeps my muscles guessing, I don’t want them to adapt to one specific workout. Sure, this creates some soreness when I switch things up…but I know that the next time I workout, I’m going to feel stronger!

However, it’s important to remember to listen to your body.  STOP exercising if you feel sudden or sharp pain during exercise as this could mean you have an injury.  Also, if you experience DOMS for over a week, and it’s consistently holding you back from your workouts, then it’s possible you could be overtraining and you should seek advice from your doctor.

So the next time you are feeling a little sore after a hard workout, embrace it.  Know that you are becoming a stronger, leaner, muscle building machine!


*Disclaimer: I am not a certified physical trainer, these are just my personal opinions based on my personal experience and extensive research.  If you are new to physical activity, please consult your physician before participating in any strenuous activity.*

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