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What Is DOMS?
What Is DOMS?

What Is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness Or More Commonly Known As DOMS?

Known as ‘delayed onset muscle soreness’ or more commonly by the acronym DOMS is that soreness following exercise that can begin 6-24 hours afterwards. DOMS is often at it’s worst 24-48 hours post exercise and symptoms will start to diminish at about 72 hours however the exact course of symptoms is quite variable from person to person and depending on the type and intensity of exercise performed prior.

DOMS: A Sign Of Muscle Damage But Not Injury

You could say delayed onset muscle soreness is essentially a sign of muscle damage however it is not considered an injury. Delayed onset muscle soreness is more a side effect of the repair process that develops in response to the microscopic muscle damage caused by exercise.

Is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness Bad?

Just because delayed onset muscle soreness is a sign of muscle damage does not mean it is actually a bad thing. DOMS is just a normal response to intense exercise and activity. The severity of this reaction to exercise typically reduces with training as your body adapts to the work load you are regularly performing.
However, depending on the severity and duration of the delayed onset muscle soreness it may indicate the exercise you are performing is either too intense for your current level or that you are performing the exercise/s incorrectly.

Who Gets DOMS?

Anyone can get delayed onset muscle soreness and it is most pronounced when a new training activity, or training intensity or volume is introduced. This obviously includes first time exercisers and people new to physical activity in general. Simply put DOMS is really your body trying to make adaptions in an attempt to better prepare your body to do the same activity again.

What Causes Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness?

Generally exercise involving eccentric contractions is most often associated with delayed onset muscle soreness. Eccentric contraction is a contraction where the muscle lengthens as it contracts such as running down hills or stairs or the lowering phase of a squat, push up or chin up to name a few…
DOMS is thought to be the result of microtrauma in muscles and connective tissues and causes inflammation. The reason that eccentric contractions are more likely to cause delayed onset muscle soreness is because eccentric muscle loading places a higher load on your muscles compared to concentric (a shortening) contraction of the muscle and with these higher loads the muscles suffer the microtrauma.

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of DOMS?

The most common symptom of DOMS is the discomfort in the muscles but other signs and symptoms of delayed onset muscle soreness can include local swelling and tenderness on palpation as well as this someone suffering with DOMS may well have reduced strength, reduced range of movement and joint stiffness.

DOMS A Precursor To Muscle Growth

DOMS the necessary evil. Although delayed onset muscle soreness appears to be caused by trauma to your muscle fibers some muscle trauma is necessary to stimulate protein production and muscle growth so that the muscles get stronger than before and the soreness doesn’t’ happen again.

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 What Is 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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