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Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) differs from regular muscle soreness in severity, duration of soreness and in causal factors. Whereas normal muscle soreness results immediately following exercise and usually lasts for less than two days, DOMS onset occurs several days following an exercise session. Regular muscle soreness and DOMS are caused by different variables.




It used to be thought that delayed onset muscle soreness was caused by the build-up of lactic acid in muscle tissue. However, new research has disproved this hypothesis, and it is now clear that whereas regular muscle soreness is predominantly due to microtrauma structural damage to muscle fibers, DOMS is primarily caused by the body’s inflammatory response to exercise and several other variables.


A few ways to help recovery and reduce DOMS:


Foam Roller

It looks ridiculously low-tech, but a cylinder of foam can ease tightness and tension between your muscles and fascia (the connective tissue). Using your bodyweight, you roll major muscle groups (gluteus, quads, upper back, calves) over the foam, applying pressure to tight areas and trigger points to smooth out knots and increase blood flow. Studies show foam rolling can help reduce soreness for two days after an intense workout. Foam rolling can be painful, but it shouldn’t be unbearable – if it is, get yourself to the physio.



Pre-Condition Your Muscles

Ensuring that you warm up before exercising by lightly working the same muscles that you are going to train can go a long way to reducing DOMS. Bodyweight exercises or using light weights to do the moves you’re about to perform can be good for this.


Blow Hot and Cold In The Bath Or Shower

Blood flow transporting nutrients to the muscles and clear metabolites are an important aspect of reducing DOMS. Physiotherapists often advise switching between cold and hot while in the shower. This causes alternating vasodilatation and vasoconstriction of the blood vessels in the affected area. Try to switch the temperature every two minutes, but keep it fairly comfortable – nothing too extreme in either direction – you should notice some improvement in the severity of your DOMS.


Scoff Cherries

Eat a couple of handfuls of cherries after your workout to halt the onset of DOMS. Cherries are packed with anthocyanins, which help to increase the rate that oxygen travels to your ailing muscles. This will ensure less pain the day after your workout and a quicker recovery – plus it counts as one of your five a day. Lovely


Make Your Recovery Active

Active recovery is a great way to help to reduce the inflammation and pain that comes with DOMS. Aim to perform some low-impact aerobic exercise both immediately after an intense workout and in the days following. The increased flow of blood around the body should help to diminish muscle soreness and help you to recover in time for your next session.


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