DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) describes a phenomenon of muscle pain, muscle soreness or muscle stiffness that occurs in the day or two after exercise. This muscle soreness is most frequently felt when you begin a new exercise program, change your exercise routine, or dramatically increase the duration or intensity of your exercise routine. Although it can be alarming for new exercisers, delayed onset muscle soreness is a normal response to unusual exertion and is part of an adaptation process that leads to greater stamina and strength as the muscles recover and build size and strength).
This sort of muscle pain is not the same as the muscle pain or fatigue you experience during exercise. Delayed soreness is also unlike the acute, sudden and sharp pain of an injury such as muscle strains or spasms that occurs during activity and often causes swelling or bruising. The delayed muscle soreness of DOMS is generally at its worst within the first 2 days following a new, intense activity and slowly subsides over the next few days.
What Causes Muscle Soreness After Exercise? – Delayed onset muscle soreness is thought to be a result of microscopic tearing of the muscle fibers. The amount of tearing (and soreness) depends on how hard and how long you exercise and what type of exercise you do.
Tips for Dealing with Muscle Soreness After Exercise – If you do find yourself sore after a tough workout or competition, try these methods to deal with your discomfort. Although not all are backed up with research, many athletes report success with some of the following methods.
Rest and Recover—If you simply wait it out, soreness will go away in 3 to 7 days with no special treatment.
Try a massage—Some research has found that sports massage may help reduce reported muscle soreness and reduce swelling, although it had no effects on muscle function
Ice or Ice Bath—Although no clear evidence proves they are effective, many pro athletes use them and claim they work to reduce soreness.
Perform gentle stretching—Although research doesn’t find stretching alone reduces muscle pain of soreness, many people find it simply feels good.
Try Yoga—There is growing support that performing Yoga may reduce DOMS.
Listen to your body—Avoid any vigorous activity or exercise that increases pain.