Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)


DOMS or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness is inevitable when you start a new exercise routine. This is the deep aching/stiffness you feel in your muscles in the days after your first workout...

It's pretty uncomfortable and you'll probably feel like you've been involved in a train crash or something!

Although not particularly pleasant, DOMS after your first training session is completely normal and nothing to be too concerned about; the workout might not have even felt too tough at the time either.

The good news is that the pain should clear out within 3-4 days maximum and you won't feel anywhere near as much soreness after your second session and beyond.

The best thing to do whilst experiencing DOMS is to keep moving; light exercise such as walking, gentle cycling or swimming, anything of light intensity really to encourage the blood flow to your muscles in turn provide your muscles with fresh oxygenated and nutrient rich blood which will speed up the recovery process. Think of light exercise as "hair of the dog" for DOMS.

Here are some tip tips for help with DOMS:

Eat plenty of high quality (bioavailable) protein - protein contains the building blocks for muscle repair (amino acids).

Eat lots of veg and some fruit - these foods are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which help to repaid cellular damage.

Stay hydrated - since muscle is made up of about 75% water, make sure to stay hydrated by drinking your daily water requirement (body weight in lb/50).

Sleep - Getting to bed between 10-10:30pm and trying to get a good 8 hours will further speed up your recovery and help reduce the symptoms of DOMS; your muscles repair and regrow in your sleep so make sure to get plenty!

L-Glutamine - research has shown that this supplement can reduce the effects of DOMS, and reduce muscle damage, and downfall of performance.

Things to avoid whilst experiencing DOMS:

Deep tissue massage - this just creates more muscle damage and slows down the healing process. Gentle massage however has been scientifically proven to be effective in reducing the symptoms of pain and facilitating recovery.

Stretching - Static/passive stretching is completely pointless for many reasons (see my blog post on stretching) and when it comes to DOMS, stretching may delay recovery by further compounding the stress. Stretching right before and after your workout won't help either unless you strongly believe it will help then you may experience some placebo effects.

Ice baths or cryotherapy - Although cold water immersion and cryotherapy reduces the sensation of DOMS they can delay muscle recovery by interfering with the necessary inflammatory process and also delay glycogen re-synthesis.