What is DOMS?
Delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS. is the pain and stiffness felt in the muscles several hours to days after strenuous or unaccustomed exercise. This soreness is typically felt most strongly 24 to 72 hours after the exercise.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, symptoms of DOMS to watch out for may include: muscles that feel tender to the touch, reduced range of motion due to pain and stiffness when moving, swelling in the affected muscles, muscle fatigue, and short-term loss of muscle strength.
What Causes DOMS?
High-intensity exercise can cause tiny, microscopic tears in your muscle fibers. Your body responds to this damage by increasing inflammation, which may lead to a delayed onset of soreness in the muscles. It was once thought that a buildup of exercise-induced lactic acid was to blame for DOMS, but this common misconception has been debunked.
Pretty much any high-intensity exercise can cause DOMS, but one kind in particular, known as eccentric exercise, often triggers it.
Eccentric exercises cause you to tense a muscle at the same time you lengthen it.
For example, the controlled, downward motion as you straighten your forearm after a biceps curl is an eccentric movement. The way your quads tense up when running downhill is also an eccentric movement.
What can be done to treat DOMS?
A 2017 review of several studies found that people who received a massage 24, 48, or 72 hours after an intense workout reported significantly less soreness than people who didn’t get a post-workout massage. Getting a massage 48 hours after workout seemed to work best.
Getting a massage after every workout may not be feasible, but you can try self-massage on your:
To massage your muscles, apply some oil or lotion to the area and knead, squeeze, and gently shake your muscles.
Using a foam roller right after a workout may also help head off a bad case of DOMS.
Topical analgesics are products meant to help relieve pain. Menthol-based topical analgesicsTrusted Source and those with arnica may help ease the pain of DOMS. These products can be applied topically to the area that’s sore. Always following packaging instructions about how much and how often to apply.
A 2016 review of studies found that a 10- to 15-minute full-body immersion in a cold water bath (50–59°F or 10–15°C) lessened the degree of DOMS.
Cold baths have become a popular self-treatment for competitive athletes.
Does an ice bath sound extreme? Try a soak in a warm tub, instead. Moist heat wraps or a warm bath trusted source ease the pain and stiffness that come with DOMS.
More research is needed, but some trusted source suggest that eating certain foods or taking certain supplements may help ease DOMS. Some of the supplements being Tart cherry juice 1oz. per day or 1000mg of vitamin C can help reduce the length and intensity of the muscle soreness.
Learn what kinds of foods to eat after a workout to support optimal muscle recovery.
Do over-the-counter pain relievers help?
According to research published in 2000, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications, such as ibuprofen (Advil), don’t do much to relieve DOMS pain.
When to seek medical help
DOMS rarely requires a trip to the doctor. But the American Council on Sports Medicine recommends you see a doctor or nurse practitioner if the pain from DOMS stops you from doing your normal daily activities.
You should also seek medical attention right away if:
- your DOMS lasts longer than 7 days
- your urine becomes abnormally dark
- you have severe swelling in your arms and legs
Sharp pain, muscle spasms, and numbness and tingling are different from the dull ache of muscle soreness. Talk with your doctor right away if you feel any of these symptoms after working out.
Here at Vector Spine and Sport we work with you to recover from pain and injuries that happen to all athletes weather you are just getting into it or if you are a seasoned pro. We love to give you the tools recover and get back to doing what you love. We are your local Millcreek, UT chiropractor. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us or give us a call at (801) 456-0352.