Can You Stop Yourself From Getting DOMS?
There currently isn’t any research backing to suggest that stretching (static stretching) either before, or after exercise alters the likelihood of developing delayed onset muscle soreness from any exercise session. Possibly what is the best way to attempt to safeguard yourself against getting DOMS following exercise is simply to progress training loads slowly. And with any new workout, or exercise routine allow your muscles the time to adapt through gradual progressions only and allow appropriate recovery time between sessions, avoiding engaging in a training session that lies beyond your muscle’s current capabilities.
What Are The Best Ways To Relieve DOMS?
Other than managing your loads and potentially including a good warm up and cool down as part of any exercise session to help reduce the likelihood of developing DOMS. The following are a few suggestions of ways that may help manage and reduce the symptoms of DOMS:
- Massage is generally considered the main therapeutic approach to relieving symptoms of DOMS
- Foam rolling similar to massage can be effective in helping manage symptoms
- Contrast baths, or showers (alternating hot and cold therapies)
- Omega-3 supplements can reduce inflammation and may help manage symptoms
- Protein, increasing protein intake to increase protein synthesis in the muscles may help accelerate the recovery time from in DOMS
- Sleep, crucial with most injuries and for your body in general is making sure you get enough rest so your body can recover
When Is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness Not DOMS But 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 whereas DOMS won’t usually come on for at least 6 hours following any activity. DOMS is also usually of gradual onset in natural whereas injuries are more likely to be noticed as an acute pain at a point in 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 simply delayed onset muscle soreness.
- Also, if the pain becomes more debilitating, or you are experiencing heavy swelling, bruising, heat and redness then again, these signs would be something considered atypical of simply DOMS and signs more associated with an actual injury.
- Not a hard and fast rule but often post exercise muscle soreness will be fairly symmetrical in weightlifting and running activities as both sides of the body are performing similar functions so for example if you have been running and experience symptoms unilaterally it may also indicate an injury on that side more so than DOMS.
Should You Try To Avoid Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness When Training?
DOMS is a normal and common side effect associated with 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. Noting that if you don’t train hard enough to challenge your body and experience some level of DOMS then you may not experience the gains in strength, power, fitness… you seek. So too if you don’t allow appropriate rest and recovery as part of your training, without rest your muscles may not get the chance to recover and grow, and as a result 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, and training hard enough to push towards achieving goals of increased physical capability 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.