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Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness – What is DOMS?

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What is delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS? This is something I often have to explain to clients during their first few sessions as it can be a very normal part of starting a structured exercise program. DOMS is the muscle pain associated after exercising, usually between 24-72 hours post exercise. It is the result of micro-tears within the muscles, usually from performing strenuous activity.

reasons you can experience DOMS

Whether you are starting a new exercise program or have been exercising regularly for a while, a few reasons you can experience DOMS are:

  • Increasing repetitions or weight on exercises
  • Exercising more frequently
  • Exercising less frequently e.g. exercising once per week instead of twice
  • Having time off e.g. going away for a holiday and then performing the first session back
  • Different resistance exercises
  • Trying different sports or types of exercise e.g. running
  • Insufficient recovery time between sessions
  • Exercising using the same muscle groups with little rest in between.

reduce the impact of DOMS

DOMS is a normal part of building strength and increasing lean mass and causes micro-tears within the muscles which then causes them to rebuild and remodel during recovery periods. This allows you to become stronger over time. It isn’t necessary to feel sore after every workout or training session, you can still have a good workout without being sore.

Some of the things you can do to reduce the impact of DOMS are:

  • Do more physical activity e.g. going for a walk, this will promote more blood flow and increase body temperature to help reduce stiffness
  • Stretch – focusing on increasing flexibility to the areas you feel sore
  • Use a foam roller – again to help increase mobility and reduce stiffness
  • Eat enough protein – the muscles need to rebuild and use protein to do this
  • Get enough sleep and rest – this is when the muscles recover and rebuild

Speak to your exercise physiologist about an appropriate training program or if you have more questions about DOMS.

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