What is DOMS? DOMS stands for delayed muscle soreness. Without knowing it, it is likely that you and almost anyone who has exercised has experience of DOMS, especially if the training was vigorous and at an intensity that you were not used to.
DOMS is often characterized by a particular set of symptoms, including muscle pain and tenderness. But according to research published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (opens in new tab), there are some ways you can relieve these aches and pains. For example, the best massage guns can help you ease this pain. And the same goes for a warm and inviting bath, along with light stretches.
But first, to get to the bottom of what DOMS is and whether you can avoid suffering from this exercise-induced condition, we turned to science and spoke to an expert to find out all there is to know. fall.
What is DOMS?
“DOMS stands for ‘delayed onset muscle pain,'” said Leo Arguelles, assistant clinical professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Illinois. “This is a benign exercise-induced condition that develops after unusual, vigorous, and often strenuous physical activity.”
- Localized muscle pain
- Movement-related pain
While you won’t experience DOMS during your training, scientists report their findings in The Journal of Physiological Sciences (opens in new tab) Suppose that this pain usually peaks after a pain-free period of 12 to 24 hours, about 24 to 72 hours after exercise, and disappears within seven days of physical activity.
Leonard D. Arguelles, PT, DPT, CCS is a spokesperson for the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and a visiting clinical assistant professor in the PT division at the University of Illinois Chicago. Leo graduated from the same department in 2008 and started working as an acute care physiotherapist at the Swedish Covenant Hospital, specializing in intensive care and cardiopulmonary rehabilitation. A board-certified cardiovascular and pulmonary clinical specialist through the APTA, he enjoys marathon running, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and MMA.
What Causes DOMS?
As stated in a review published in The Journal of Physiological Sciences (opens in new tab)DOMS is a fairly common consequence of ‘unusually strenuous exercise’.
“Especially eccentric contraction (lengthening contraction) exercises, where the muscle is stretched as it contracts,” notes the review. “The cause is generally believed to be microdamage to the muscle and subsequent inflammation.”
When you build muscle, you are actually causing tiny tears in your muscle fibers. The surrounding tissue around these tears will then flare up and feel painful and tight.
This means DOMS can occur as you build muscle (opens in new tab) anywhere in the body. Think: the controlled downward motion of a bicep curl, lowering yourself from a pull-up, or rising from a squat. It can even happen after you play an occasional game of basketball. And, as Arguelles points out, DOMS can also strike after you’ve put your cardiovascular and musculoskeletal system to the test by running for several miles.
He says, “A common muscle group where DOMS occurs is the quadriceps after long-distance running, for example, especially if you’re unaccustomed to running or increase the intensity or distance of running.”
How can you avoid/prevent DOMS?
Research published in the Journal of Healthcare (opens in new tab) found that one of the best ways to avoid DOMS was to control the load intensity. And Arguelles agrees. He says, “DOMs can be avoided by slowly increasing your physical activity routine, not too intense, too fast, and too long, as the body needs time to adjust to the workload.”
According to Arguelles, you can do this by training at an intensity of about 80% when you start a new activity or exercise, instead of going all out and working to your maximum capacity from the start. “Especially if you don’t have a good idea where your baseline is,” he adds. “Don’t increase your activity more than 10% per week.”
How Can You Treat DOMS When You Are Suffering?
If muscle aches, pains and stiffness sound all too familiar to you, consider these preventive and combative measures:
It has long been proven that the benefits of stretching (opens in new tab) are huge. Along with relieving stress, stretching can help prepare your body for exercise and prevent injury. A study published in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy (opens in new tab) also found, “Static stretching is effective at increasing range of motion.”
By increasing your range of motion, you are less likely to experience the muscle tears that cause DOMS.
Whether you prefer a lukewarm shower or warm bath, both hot and cold therapy have been proven to aid your DOMS recovery. A study in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine (opens in new tab) concluded that applying ‘low temperature heat wraps’ to the muscles in question was an effective way to prevent DOMS and ‘increase tissue flexibility and tissue blood flow’.
The same study also found that applying heat 24 hours after exercise may be less effective but may help reduce muscle soreness.
Perhaps the best way to reduce DOMS? According to a 2018 study published in Frontiers in Physiology (opens in new tab): “Massage appears to be the most effective method to reduce DOMS and perceived fatigue.”
And, as discovered by research published in The Journal of Athletic Training (opens in new tab)massage can “relieve DOMS by about 30% and reduce swelling”.
It is likely that this works by increasing blood flow to the area, which speeds up the healing process.
Wear compression clothing
Compression clothing (also known as skin-tight clothing) can be used as a form of recovery. According to a study in the Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation (opens in new tab): “Wearing compression garments during the post-workout period can be an effective way to reduce DOMS and speed recovery of muscle function.”
Looking for more ways to recover? Discover the benefits of massage (opens in new tab) or how to perform a trigger point massage (opens in new tab) At home. Remember when you’re working out to stay hydrated, get the rest you need, use hot and cold compresses, and maybe even treat yourself to a massage.
This article is not intended as medical advice and readers should consult their physician or health care professional before adopting any diet or treatment.