We have all had the feeling, waking up and trying to roll out of bed, only to realise that everything you do in the next coming days is going to be painful and you decide to avoid all unnecessary movements you can. But what is actually going on and why does it happen?
When we begin to exercise, we load our muscles in an unfamiliar strenuous and repetitive manner. Whether it is lifting weights or going for a run, our muscles are working overtime at an intensity and duration for which they unaccustomed to. Consequently, we experience ‘Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) or the “hit by a bus” feeling. Specifically, we may feel pain, tenderness, tightness and a deep ache in the muscles for 1-3 days post-exercise, which can range from pain that goes away with daily activities to debilitating pain that prevents your normal routine. Everyone experiences DOMS differently, yet the more consistently you exercise the less you will suffer intense DOMS.
So, what can we do to help it? There are no certain or proved methods to cure DOMS but there are definitely a number of things that can be done to help you get up and moving again. The main theme of treatments is to relax the muscles and reduce tightness, thereby lowering feelings of pain. To achieve this you have a sports massage, use heat packs and stretch or foam roll after exercise (always important!). Magnesium supplements, if taken regularly, have also been used to help with DOMS as they aid in relaxing muscles and decreasing cramping. Another treatment people generally seek out is the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which help by reducing the inflammation caused by micro-tears in the muscles from overuse and new movements/loads.
If you find that you are significantly sore and the pain continues for > 3 days after your exercise session, it may indicate that your exercise training demands are too high or your form may be compromised. If you have any questions or would like some more information, one of our accredited exercise physiologists may be able to assist you. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mikaila Merritt (AEP, ESSAM)
Cheung, K., Hume, A. P. (2012). Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. Sports Medicine, 33(2), 145-164. Doi: 10.2165/00007256-200333020-00005
Zainuddin, Z., Newton, M, Sacco, P., Nosaka, K. (2005). Effects of Massage on Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness, Swelling, and Recovery of Muscle Function. Journal of Athletic Training, 40(3), 174-180.
Dierking, J. K., Bemben, M.G. (1998). Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. Strength and Conditioning, 20(4), 44-48.