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What are DOMS?

You may well know all about DOMS but if you don't then I will fill you in. DOMS is an abbreviation for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. Remember that burn you felt in your muscles 1 or 2 days after your workout and how you couldn't crouch down to pick up something you dropped, as your quads hurt too much? Well that's DOMS. Now I'm not talking about the pain/soreness you feel during or straight after the workout, that's called acute muscle soreness, no DOMS usually occurs between 24 and 72 hours later. You may notice that certain muscles are tender to the touch, ie your child may lean on your leg when you're sitting down and you think "ouch, please don't press there, it really hurts at the moment!" Your range of motion may not be as great as usual or you may feel especially stiff when you move, you may even lose a bit of muscle strength for that couple of days, perhaps when trying to carry a heavy load of shopping, it isn't as easy as it usually is. These are all symptoms of DOMS.

What is the cause of this you may wonder, well basically if you carry out an intense or new workout, you may cause your muscle fibres tiny microscopic tears. Inflammation may then increase which causes the soreness. Anyone can experience it, not just people out of the habit of exercise, but even athletes.

You may need a day or so to rest from intense or heavy exercise, however it can help to do some simple yoga or more stretching exercises or perhaps swimming or a walk to stop the stiffness getting worse. Time is the best healer but some people report that having a massage within 48 hours or a warm bath can help relieve the soreness.

Next time you work out, make sure you drink plenty, warm up and cool down well and end with good static stretching (there isn't any evidence that these will prevent the soreness but it is still good for your body to do so). Also make sure you increase your workouts gradually, don't go from low intensity one week and then dive into massive high intensity exercise the following week. Work up to it to help avoid the soreness. Your body will naturally adapt and each time you put your body under the same intensity it will get used to the workout and you should experience less soreness each time and for a shorter period of time. Your muscles will become conditioned to it.

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