When your muscles feel stiff and sore a couple hours after a workout there’s a good chance this is DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). DOMS can kick in as soon as 6 to 8 hours post exercise and peaks around the 24-48-hour mark, after the performance of a new or strenuous exercise.
So, what actually are DOMS?
‘DOMS appears to be a product of inflammation caused by microscopic tears in the connective tissue elements that sensitize nociceptors and thereby heighten the sensations of pain’. So, basically DOMS are tiny, tiny tears in the muscles.
What triggers DOMS?
Exercise or other physical stresses outside your normal range of intensity (anything you aren’t used to). Even extremely well-conditioned athletes can get DOMS if they train harder than usual. DOMS are most likely to occur during the ‘Eccentric contraction’ of an exercise- the elongation part of an exercise for example, ‘The bicep curl’- curling the dumbbells up towards you is the ‘concentric contraction’ and the lowering of the weight is the ‘eccentric contraction’. The slower you lower the weight the more beneficial, however the more likely chance to cause you DOMS. Being dehydrated is a contributing factor to DOMS, and also not warming up/ cooling down properly.
Ways to treat DOMS:
• A cup of Epsom Salts in a warm bath
• Sports massage
• Foam rolling
• Ice bath (if you can brave the cold!!)
• Gentle cardio (e.g. walking)
To summarise, most people will suffer with DOMS on a regular basis. If you do feel sore/stiff after your session don’t panic and be sure to keep moving and gently stretching to reduce the recovery time, and keep up your protein intake to help your muscles build and repair.