DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness, is the medical term given to intense soreness, discomfort, pain, and tenderness associated with post exercise muscle pain. Latest research indicates that this pain is associated with microscopic muscle trauma. Studies indicate a number of different modalities are shown to be effective at reducing the symptoms of DOMS. Here are my tips to avoid (if possible) and deal with post exercise soreness.

DOMS is typically characterized by muscle pain at 24-72 hours following intense exercise. Additionally, decreased range of motion, increased tenderness, pain, and swelling are also associated with the condition. DOMS is typically associated with eccentric exercise. That is, exercises that involve weighted lengthening of the muscle. Think lowering a barbell during a bench press, or lowering a dumbbell during a bicep curl.

Dealing with elite athletes, runners, and Crossfitters has lead me to my first tip in dealing with DOMS:

  • Avoid overuse.

  1. While this may sound like a no-brainer, athletes such as Crossfitters, weightlifters, and runners are prone to over-use injuries, and DOMS can be an early sign of a potential injury.

  2. If you are feeling particularly ‘beat up’ following an intense training session, avoid using that muscle group in subsequent days training. For runners, try cross training. For weightlifters, train an alternative muscle group. For Crossfitters, try a slower, cardio-based workout.

  • Treat Yo’ Self

  1. With our busy lives, most of us are guilty of not stretching or mobilizing post exercise. Follow a particularly intense workout with foam rolling, light cardio, and light stretching will help offset your intense training. Additionally, research supports vibrational therapy, ice, and NSAID’s.

  • Treat Yo’ Self Part Duex

  1. Deep tissue massage, and prolonged static stretching should be avoided as these have been shown to exacerbate the symptoms associated with DOMS.

  • Evaluate your training

  1. While intense training sessions are necessary for growth and development, especially in sport specific training, over-training can lead to injuries and poor performance. My best advice for training programs is that it is varied in types of exercise, intensity, and duration. To avoid DOMS, and injury, avoid training muscle groups more than twice per week, and avoid training within the same time domain more than twice per week. Time domains in my opinion reflect desired intensity output. Shorter workouts should require more intensity, while longer workouts should be at a more tolerable intensity. Additionally, having a goal with each training session will help keep things in perspective.

DOMS is simply a part of training. Knowing how to deal with it can be a game-changer. Recovery is the most important part of training in my professional opinion. At the elite level, everyone is putting in the work, it is who recovers the best, and stays the healthiest that comes out on top. Avoiding long term and nagging prolonged injuries can keep you performing your best.