Delayed onset muscle soreness

Delayed onset muscle soreness (aka DOMS – sometimes known as muscle fever)


If you train hard or commence a new program you may experience soreness 24-72 hours later. According to current ideology this delayed-onset muscle soreness has several possible causes:

–       Slight tears or microtears in connective tissue

–       Damage to muscle fiber

–       Accumulation of fluid (edema)

–       Uncontrolled contractions of muscle fibres

–       Lingering effects of metabolic by-products. Contrary to what you may think, lactic acid is eliminated within the hour after you train.

–       Exercise involving eccentric contraction as in lowering a heavy weight is more likely to cause soreness persisting for days which will ultimately reduce your enjoyment of subsequent activity.

There are several ways in which you can manage DOMS as well as minimizing soreness. My favourite one is by practicing what I like to call patience.

-Train smart not for ego- avoid maximal effort during your first week back at training or the first week of your new program; instead, begin with moderate weights and progress gradually throughout the weeks.

-Stretch- stretching has been proven to be the best reliever for reducing soreness and muscle discomfort. Even though you may not “feel like it”, you are fatigued or you just simply can’t be bothered; stretching is worth the effort after your workout. Spending time on the foam roller can help you reduce DOMS.

-Recovery- In addition to stretching, cold baths and myofascial therapy have shown to be proficient in relieving and reducing DOMS. Resting and eating well have also shown to play a key role in ridding muscle soreness.

Remember that if your muscles are sore, you may experience reduced strength for as long as 2 weeks…

Fortunately for all of us though, DOMS usually only occur during the start-up phase of a new program, the symptoms disappear within a few weeks, reappearing only after a long layoff or the vigorous start of a new training cycle.


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