DOMS is an acronym for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness which is the muscle soreness experienced 24-48 hours post-exercise. It can also start as early as 6 hours and lasts until 72 hours post-exercise.
DOMS is a common result of intense physical activity that stresses the muscle beyond what it is accustomed to.
Eccentric contractions are more likely to cause DOMS because eccentric loading puts a higher demand on your muscles compared to a concentric contraction of the muscle, and with these higher loads/demands the muscles suffer microtrauma.
DOMS is thought to be microtrauma in muscle and connective tissue and causes inflammation and subsequent pain. Anyone can get DOMS and it is more pronounced when a new training activity or increased training load (volume or intensity) is introduced.
DOMS is not a bad thing, it is a sign your body is trying to make adaptions in an attempt to better prepare your body to do the same activity again.
Symptoms of DOMS can be discomfort in muscles experienced 6-72 hours post-exercise and peaks around 24-48 hours post-exercise. The pain is usually bilateral.
Other symptoms may include:
- localised swelling
- tenderness on palpation
- a temporary reduction in strength
- temporary reduction in joint range of motion (both inhibited by muscle pain).
Allowing the muscle to adapt to new stress slowly could help to minimise the onset of DOMS, however, there is no way it can be avoided altogether and it is a fairly normal response to intense exercise.
There is no definitive treatment for DOMS, however some ways to minimise the severity of symptoms may include, ice baths post workout, gentle stretching, light massage, a low dose of ibuprofen, and gentle cardio exercise.
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