13 Aug 2020

By Victoria Athey BSc MSc MCSP. Physiotherapist and Sports Massage Therapist at 360Athletic

We’ve all been there haven’t we, hard leg session yesterday .. struggling to walk up the office staircase today. Just about every muscle you knew you had and every muscle you didn’t know you had sore, painful and oh so achey. This phenomenon is known as DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) and is often seen in newbies, to either training in general or to a new training style/program or phase.

DOMS – The ins and outs

What: Stiffness, soreness and tightness in your muscles, alongside short-term reduced strength and tenderness to touch.

When: 48-72 hours post a hard session is when your DOMS will peak

Why: Although still not clear exactly what causes DOMS, the generally accepted consensus is that tiny microscopic tears in your muscle fibres are the cause of this pain. Usually these will occur in the eccentric (lowering) phase of exercises where the muscles is contracting but also lengthening – for example the descent of a squat or a pull up.


Tips to reduce DOMS:

  1. Progress with new training slowly – Allowing your body to gradually get used to the new style of training or load placed upon it is probably your best bet to decreasing the risk of severe DOMS
  2. Foam rolling – No promise or guarantees with this one I’m afraid as the evidence is mixed however some people find that it can help. Therefore it’s worth giving it a go and seeing if you feel the benefits, if you don’t no need to spend your time continuing to try.

Are DOMS a sign of a good workout?

I would not advocate muscle soreness as a marker for a good workout, instead focus on your goals within your training, have you managed to gain strength? Are you able to last longer in endurance tests? Are you able to recover quicker during HIITs? Are you able to move faster during running? Are you performing better in your sport?

Join 360 Athletic Tribe for some excellent fitness classes and small group training to ensure that you are improving your overall fitness, without unnecessary muscle soreness. Our physiotherapy clinic is also available to ensure any niggles or injuries are resolved quickly and do not get in the way of your fitness goals.

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