Friday, October 4, 2013

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness: It’s the Real Deal

What is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)?

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, DOMS is a dull, aching sensation over a trained muscle group that begins the day following exercise.  DOMS peaks about 48 hours after exercise and usually takes several days to resolve.

DOMS related pain is usually due to muscle fiber damage.  The extent of inflammations and muscle damage depends on the intensity, volume, and type of activity.  One other major factor is the current exercise level and training status of the individual.


·      Muscular stiffness
·      Tenderness
·      Swelling
·      Limited range of motion (due to edema or pain)
·      Low grade ache to severe pain

DOMS vs. Injuries

Acute injuries will be felt during or just after an exercise session.  Pain is usually sudden and can be easily localized.  For acute injuries try RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevate) and/or see your primary care physician.


Treatment for DOMS is very limited but there are some things you can do to help aid recovery after a hard workout or race:

·      Keep Moving – The longer you sit, the stiffer you get!  Go for a walk or just get up and move to keep the blood flowing to those unhappy muscles.

·      Aquatic Exercise – Try Burdenko!  The pool is an excellent way to recover.  Escape from gravity to increase flexibility and eliminate soreness.

·      Stretch – Don’t forget to stretch!  It’s easy to forget with all post-race festivities but try to get in a cool down jog followed by static stretches of all major muscle groups.

·      Foam Roll – It’s a love/hate relationship.  If you can’t afford a post-race massage, foam rolling is a great alternative.  Foam rolling is a self-myofascial release technique to help increase flexibility and range of motion leading to faster recovery.

·      Ice Baths – Another love/hate relationship.  A 10 minutes ice bath in 50-60 degree water has been said to reduce inflammation and help flush the metabolic waste out of your muscles.

·      Compression Socks – I am a huge believer in compression socks.  I wear them for all my long runs and races but they also aid recovery post-race by increasing blood flow to the muscles and reducing lactic acid buildup.

·      Hydrate – Just because the big race is over, doesn’t mean you can stop drinking your water.  Keep those muscles happy by continuing to hydrate!

·      Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory drug – I do not like taking anything for pain but this is an option.  Make sure to follow directions on the bottle and never take with alcohol!

DOMS is very common after trying a new activity or pushing your body to new limits.  Recovery is very important after a hard workout or race.  Also, warm up and cool down properly to avoid finding yourself in physical therapy!

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