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When Is DOMS Not DOMS?

When Is DOMS Not DOMS?
When Is DOMS Not DOMS?

How Can I Stop Myself Getting DOMS?

There currently isn’t any research to suggest that stretching (static stretching) either before or after exercise alters the effects or likelihood of getting delayed onset muscle soreness from that exercise session. Possibly the best way to try and safeguard against getting DOMS following exercise is to progress slowly with any new workout or exercise routine thus giving your muscles time to adapt and recover between sessions and not engaging in a session beyond your muscles current capabilities. I would also suggest including a good warm up and cool down as part of any exercise session.

What Is The Best Way To Relieve DOMS?

The following are a few suggested ways that may help manage and reduce the symptoms of DOMS:

  • Massage (generally considered the main approach to relieving DOMS)
  • Foam rolling
  • Contrast baths or showers (alternating hot and cold)
  • Omega-3 supplements (to reduce inflammation)
  • Protein (increasing protein intake to increase protein synthesis in the muscles)
  • Sleep (getting enough rest so you body can recover)

When Is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness Actually An Injury?

As a general rule if it is an injury you are more likely to feel the discomfort immediately during the physical activity where as DOMS won’t usually come on for at least 6 hours following activity. DOMS is usually of gradual onset where as injuries are more likely to be noticed as an acute pain at a point of time during the activity.
DOMS will appear gradually often the next day and the level of soreness will reduce significantly after about 72 hours following the physical activity. If your discomfort last greater than 5 days then I would be considering it warrants attention as it may be something more than delayed onset muscle soreness.
Also if the pain becomes more debilitating or you experience heavy swelling, bruising or heat and redness then again this would be something considered atypical of just DOMS.

Should I Try To Avoid DOMS When Training?

DOMS is a normal and common side effect associated physical exercise, however you don’t have to experience delayed onset muscle soreness to get fitter or stronger. It comes back to the old saying everything in moderation and I personally feel this goes for delayed onset muscle soreness too. Your muscles require both training and rest for them to get stronger. Just as if you don’t train hard enough to challenge your body you may not make the improvements you desire so too if you don’t allow appropriate rest and recovery as part of your training then your muscles will not get the chance to grow and your risk of injury may increase.
So some light delayed onset muscle soreness in a balanced sensibly paced exercise routine is in my opinion a healthy side effect of training hard enough to reach goals of increased strength and performance.

Disclaimer: Sydney Physio Clinic does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products mentioned. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific orthopaedic advice or assistance on When Is DOMS Not DOMS? should consult his or her general practitioner or physiotherapist or otherwise appropriately skilled practitioner or trainer.

Hayden Latimer is the founder of and principle physiotherapist at Sydney Physio Clinic. Since graduating from Otago University, Dunedin, New Zealand he’s gained wide experience practicing across the globe for over 15 years and is now extremely knowledgeable in helping people reduce discomfort and restore function and mobility.


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