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Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

New year, new you, right? The couch-sitting and movie-binging have finally released their holds on you and a healthier more active person has emerged. You got this!


It’s hard to keep up motivation to get in shape when you wake up the next day after a work out feeling like your muscles have been put through the meat grinder. Well, you are not alone. We are going to try to get down to the bottom of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS).Why is getting in shape so uncomfortable? What is this irritating phenomenon? How do we recover from this and still keep the motivation to push ourselves?


What is DOMS?

DOMS is the result of muscles being stretched, contracted, or put under pressure. This muscle soreness is caused by eccentric exercises, or the repetitive lengthening of a muscle as a result of applying external resistance.

There are several theories as to why DOMS occurs in the body.  One of which is a build-up of lactic acid. Lactic acid is an organic compound produced in the muscle tissue and is thought to be a toxic metabolic waste product. When the muscle are put through intensive exercise, lactic acid is produced yet new studies have shown the lactic acid levels in the blood return to normal within one hour of the termination of exercise. Another theory is inflammation that is caused from inhibited cellular respiration following muscle exhaustion creates soreness. Muscle tearing occurs at a microscopic level which causes muscle damage. The body’s recovery sources are depleted resulting in DOMS. Yet whatever the case, DOMS does not discriminate in age, gender or the level of experience.



Prevention is the best way to lessen the painful aftershock of an intense workout. Using proper stretching and warm up techniques in order to prepare the muscle for a break-down has been shown to lessen the effects of DOMS. Utilize a foam roller pre and post workout. This helps with improving blood circulation and the lengthening of muscles. Short muscles are the root cause of producing pain. Be cautions that you are avoiding complete muscle fatigue. When the muscle are severely contracted, the muscle soreness can take much longer to reside. Increase your water intake to ensure dehydration doesn’t occur. Even with mild dehydration muscle cramps are likely increasing the symptoms of DOMS.

If you are affected by DOMS there are several ways you can treat your symptoms. A good deep-tissue massage is always a great way to relax and lengthen your muscles. Hot baths and sauna treatments are also shown to be effective. However, some people that have been unfortunate enough to experience DOMS state icy baths and cryotherapy have had positive results as well. There are theories that getting right back in the gym the following day and attempt a less aggressive workout that still contracts the muscle helps muscles to feel better.


DOMS is annoying and can “cramp” one’s style, but it shouldn’t be discouraging. Knowing that DOMS can play a role in any exercise regimen is what some would call a confirmation of an amazing workout. Afterall, no pain no gain!


Written by: Stephanie Jones