Ever come off a training session feeling great but found yourself achy 24-48 hours afterwards? You’re not alone.
Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is a relatively common occurrence after exercise, particularly if you’re just getting back into shape or working different muscle groups than usual.
The soreness comes from the muscle breakdown and repair process. Exercise places stress on muscles, causing inflammation and micro-injury. This trauma causes pain, but also stimulates the repair process, which allows muscle fibers to become thicker and stronger.
Activities that cause muscles to lengthen as force is applied, like running downhill or lowering a dumbbell, are more likely to cause DOMS than other types of activity. Exercise intensity and duration also factor in. The longer and harder you work, the more likely you are to be sore the next day.
Massage, icing, and stretching may help relieve soreness although evidence is mixed. If you’re feeling sore, it’s best to back off from intense exercise for a couple of days, and enjoy lower intensity activities. DOMS is often accompanied by a reduction in strength and range of motion, making you more susceptible to injury.
Punctuating your workout with a warm-up and cool down, foam rolling, and progressing your program gradually, can help minimize DOMS. You can gain without pain!
What are you tips? Tell us below!
Edwina Clark MS, RD (US), APD
Edwina Clark is a Registered Dietitian, with extensive experience counselling on health and wellness topics. Edwina has led corporate wellness programs for clients including Google, State Street Bank and Cancer Treatment Centre of America, in both the US and Europe. She is a seasoned public speaker, with writing featured in Teen Vogue, Adidas MiCoach Blog, and Sheraton publications. Edwina is also a former Australian athletics representative, sun-lover, and self-confessed chocoholic.