We can all experience muscle aches during exercise and the following day. Sometimes its two days later and can linger for a few days after that. This happens more when we do an activity which we haven’t done for a while or pushed ourselves a little harder than usual. This is not harmful, in fact it is good as it shows our body is adapting to exercise and getting stronger.
What is DOMS?
The achy muscle feeling after exercise is known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Often it happens after starting a new exercise programme, changing your routine or increasing the duration or intensity of your routine. When we exercise harder than normal, microscopic tears occur in our muscles and our body thinks “I must make that muscle stronger so it doesn’t happen again” so it starts to repair the damage. This results in the muscles stiffness and
soreness that is DOMS. These microscopic tears stimulate new muscle fibre growth which makes us build muscle and improve fitness.
Who does is affect?
It can affect anyone, from recreational exercisers to elite athletes. For those who are new to exercise it can be quite off-putting and worrying. It is important to remember that this will improve. As you get fitter your muscles will adapt and the DOMS will become less apparent. If you’re aim is to get fitter and stronger then expect to have achy muscles each time you adapt your routine. This is how we progress stamina and physical strength.
How long does it last?
Typically it lasts between 3 and 5 days, and usually occurs 1 or 2 days after exercise.
There is no one treatment proven to be 100% effective. Keeping moving and some gentle exercise often helps to alleviate symptoms. You may also find it helpful to have a bath, use a foam roller or have a massage to ease the soreness.
Can it be prevented?
Starting a new activity programme gradually can help minimise DOMS, giving your muscles time to adapt to new movements and loads. There is no evidence to suggest that stretching either before or after exercise reduces or prevents DOMS.
How do I know if I’ve actually got an injury?
If the pain and discomfort is more focused in one area and isn’t easing over a few days, it may be that you’ve pick up an actual injury. You’d expect DOMS to be easing gradually over a week and be more of a widespread ache in the area(s) you’ve exercised. If in doubt, just give us a call, one of our team would be happy to chat to you and offer advice.