Ever come off a training session feeling great but found yourself achy 24-48 hours afterwards? You’re not alone. Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is a relatively common occurrence after exercise, particularly if you’re just getting back into shape or working different muscle groups than usual [1,2].
The soreness comes from the muscle breakdown and repair process. Exercise places stress on muscles, causing inflammation and micro-injury [1,2]. This trauma causes pain, but also stimulate the repair process which allows muscle fibers to become thicker and stronger .
Activities that cause muscles to lengthen as force is applied, like running downhill or lowering a dumbbell, are more likely to cause DOMS than other types of activity [1,2]. Exercise intensity and duration also factor in [1,2]. The longer and harder you work, the more likely you are to be sore the next day.
Massage, icing, and stretching may help relieve soreness although evidence is mixed . If you’re feeling sore, it’s best to back off from intense exercise for a couple of days, and enjoy lower intensity activities [1,2]. DOMS is often accompanied by a reduction in strength and range of motion, making you more susceptible to injury .
Punctuating your workout with a warm-up and cool down, foam rolling, and progressing your program gradually, can help minimize DOMS. You can gain without pain!
Originally published on www.ymcansw.com.au.
 Delayed onset muscle soreness : treatment strategies and performance factors. Cheung K, Hume P, Maxwell L. Sports Med. 2003;33(2):145-64. Review.
 Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). William Braun, Gary Sforzo. American College of Sports Medicine. 2011.