We’ve all been there. The day after a tough session you expect to be a cripple as you get out of bed and are surprised when you don’t feel too bad. However the next day you roll out of bed and feel that your legs have been replaced by lead weights s you tentatively try to sit down on the toilet. That my friends, is delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMs).
What is it?
DOMs is a condition associated with pain or soreness around the muscles and joints. It typically peaks around 48 hours after training and can last as long as 72 hours.
What causes it?
Research is still underway as to the exact causes, but it was once thought that DOMs was caused by a build-up of lactic acid in the body. It’s now thought that DOMs is caused by micro tears in the connective tissue thus causing inflammation as part of the natural healing process and in turn soreness/pain. Training experience, age and session intensity can also have an effect on the severity of DOMs with it occurring in those new to exercise or returning from a prolonged break more frequently.
As mentioned, DOMs is a natural part of the training process to an extent. However ways to alleviate symptoms include:
- Foam Rolling
- Contrast Showers (bouts of cold water followed by hot water)
- Omega 3 Supplements
- Adequate Sleep
Unfortunately stretching hasn’t been shown to reduce or prevent DOMs so should be used for flexibility purposes as part of your normal cool down.
While you will suffer from DOMs from time to time, you shouldn’t be chasing after it. DOMs is not a precursor to a good workout or building more muscle and should start to ease off as training experience increases. The key take home message is some muscle soreness is not a bad thing, debilitating pain is. Start to learn the difference and always ask advice if unsure.