One of the most off-putting things, when first starting out on your fitness journey is muscle soreness, or the dreaded DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). It’s a natural part of the training process you’ll have to overcome when it gets used to moving, after being sedentary for so long.
DOMS are related to exercise-induced micro-trauma, which causes tears and the local inflammatory response to tiny muscle fibres called myofibril tears. This mechanical micro-trauma however is different from muscle strain. It typically occurs following exercises that you are not used to. DOMS is associated with fatigue and a build-up of lactic acid, along with metabolic waste build-up as a result of the by-product of glycogen usage. DOMS is also thought to be associated with eccentric exercise-related movements (being under tension whilst lengthening) eg. downhill running.
Science babble aside, they can make getting up off of the couch seem like an impossible task for about 24 -48 hours after exercising but will diminish over time, as your body adapts to moving more frequently and strenuously. There are also things that you can do to help ease the recovery process.
How To Treat DOMS
If experiencing severe DOMS here are some helpful treatments:
- Perform some gentle mobility exercises.
- A gentle massage, or self massage with a foam roller (see the video below) will promote gradual flexibility and increase blood flow. Try to avoid deep tissue massage during the first 24 hours though.
- Keep away from aggressive stretching or exercise during this process – your muscles will have a reduced ability to cope with the increased demand, and this could put you at further risk of damage or injury.
- Cycling, swimming or gentle flexibility exercises, can ease the symptoms.
The above will help with recovery, but prevention is always better than the cure. Here’s some techniques to lower your risk of feeling DOMS:
- Build up your exercise gradually, do not push yourself too hard too soon. We always ease our new students in gently, and work them up gradually.
- Make sure you’re properly warmed up before exercise. This is something that we teach our clients early on. Not only will this keep DOMS at bay, it’ll also help prevent the risk of serious injury.
- Vary your exercises. The more muscles you work on a regular basis, the less likely you are to experience soreness. It also keep your workouts fun, and stop you getting bored.
- Finish your workout by stretching and cooling down. This is another area that we concentrate on with our new students. See the video below for a short cooldown routine.
Ultimately minimising DOMS comes down to learning how to train properly. If you experience DOMS regularly and find that it derails your progress frequently when you’re exercising then you might want to consider professional coaching. We offer a FREE 1-to-1 Success Session where we can get you started on the fundamentals. If you’re not quite ready to meet us then you could download our FREE Mobility is Medicine ebook.
In closing, stretch early, stretch safely, stretch often.
Until next time, “Strength for Life”
Davie McConnachie is Scotland’s leading health and wellness coach, multi-award-winning gym owner, motivational speaker, and the founder of DMC Fitness, a fitness education facility known as the premier choice for 1-2-1 personal training. He has inspired thousands of people to fall in love with fitness – his true mission in life.
In his own fitness journey, Davie has athletically competed in Mixed Martial Arts fighting for Scottish and British titles, boxed for Scotland’s top amateur boxing team, and competed internationally in Girevoy (kettlebell) Sport.
Diving into the world of sports and wellness has helped Davie to deal with his own inner demons. He. overcame many dark times using his own unique method to complete his cycle of H.E.A.L.I.N.G.