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Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness - Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

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DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) is a prevalent complication of exceptionally difficult exercise. Read below to know more.

Medically reviewed by

Mohammed Wajid

Published At September 26, 2022
Reviewed AtMay 11, 2023

What Is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness?

DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) is a condition where muscle discomfort or stiffness appears a day or two after exercise. While it is most frequent in persons who have only recently begun exercising, it can affect anyone who has increased the length or intensity of their workout regimen. DOMS is a common reaction to extraordinary exercise and is part of the muscular recovery process as it undergoes hypertrophy or an increase in muscle size.

What Is the Cause of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness?

DOMS is distinct from muscle discomfort that occurs during activity or is caused by an injury such as a strain or sprain. Rather, it is linked to increased stress in muscle fibers caused by excessive exercise. This can also happen if you do something your muscles are not used to, like a new exercise.

What Activities Cause Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness?

The activities that can cause DOMS include:

  • Strength training exercise.

  • Walking downhill.

  • Jogging.

  • Step aerobics.

  • Jumping activities.

These activities cause DOMS as they cause muscles to lengthen while force is applied. This is eccentric muscle action.

How Much Pain Is Too Much After Exercise?

It includes:

  • If your pain prohibits you from performing daily activities such as living or working, the workout is too much for you.

  • The workout was too much if the discomfort lasted longer than 72 hours.

How to Check if Your Soreness Is Normal?

It is not typical if the pain starts during or immediately after the workout. Pain during an activity indicates that something is wrong with the exercise. This type of pain should be interpreted as your body's warning to cease doing something before a major joint or muscle injury occurs.

In difficult situations, the muscles might break down to the point that you become quite unwell, and your kidneys are damaged.

If you have or experience any of the following symptoms after a workout or activity that produces muscle discomfort, seek medical help right away:

  • Severe pain.

  • Dark-colored urine or reduced production of urine.

  • Swollen limbs.

  • Loss of joint range of motion due to swelling.

If you are considering stopping your workout routine due to muscle soreness, make every effort to get through the first few days without becoming disheartened. It will improve over time, and your muscles will reward you.

What Is the Treatment of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness?

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for delayed onset muscular soreness. While moderate stretching, vibration therapy, and even ice-water immersion have all been recommended as viable options, the majority of researchers have found mixed results.

Active Recovery-

Active recovery is a method of increasing blood flow to fatigued muscles by performing low-impact aerobic exercise right after a workout. Increased blood flow may also aid in the reduction of inflammation.

Ice or Contrast Water Bath-

Many professional athletes swear by an ice or contrast water bath to help them cool down swollen or overworked muscles.

NSAIDs-

Aspirin, Ibuprofen, and Naproxen are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) that can help reduce inflammation and pain.

RICE-

RICE (rest/ice/compression/elevation) is a technique for treating acute injuries, although it might be useful for DOMS if your condition has gone too far.

Sports Massage-

A frequent sports massage is also thought to improve blood flow to the muscles, which may help to reduce stiffness and swelling.

Staying Hydrated-

Since a shortage of electrolytes adds to muscular discomfort, it is important to stay hydrated throughout your workout. Because your muscles are working harder, they require more oxygen and thus require more blood to circulate. Water makes up about 82 percent of your blood volume. Thus hydration is far more vital and beneficial than merely relieving your thirst. Keep a water bottle handy with you while training, and take a sip of water after each set or five minutes of cardio, such as on the treadmill. You should also make sure to replenish any fluids lost during your workout after you have completed it. To avoid dehydration, which can exacerbate muscle stiffness, drink fresh coconut water or an electrolyte drink after your workout. Avoid beverages heavy in sugar, salt, or caffeine, as they might cause dehydration.

Quality Sleep-

Sleep is an extremely effective technique for reducing DOMS and muscular growth, as well as a fundamental component of a healthy lifestyle. Human growth hormones and other muscle-building substances are naturally created by your body during deep sleep. To assist your body to recuperate from exercise, try to get at least seven hours of sleep.

If you are having a problem getting into the deep sleep needed for a healthy recovery, try practicing deep and calm breathing and turning off all devices one hour before bedtime. Taking a salt bath, as indicated above, can also aid in the induction of deep, restful sleep. Sleep is a completely regenerative process where your body is able to recover, rebuild and adapt. Not only can developing a proper sleep regimen help with DOMS, but it will also aid with long-term muscle building and fat loss.

How to Prevent Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness?

To lessen the intensity of DOMS, begin your new workout routine cautiously. Allowing the muscle to adjust to new stress might help to reduce the degree of symptoms, although soreness is unlikely to be completely prevented. Allowing the muscle to recuperate from work that causes pain is also vital, and repeating the same activities on future days should be done with caution. Warming up properly is also necessary for preparing the muscle for the types of stresses that can cause damage, but there is little evidence that warming up helps prevent DOMS symptoms. Stretching can be performed anytime before or after an exercise routine, but it is preferable to stretch after the body has warmed up. Stretching has not been demonstrated to minimize or prevent DOMS symptoms, but DOMS should only last a few days (typically 3-5), and the muscles involved will be better prepared for future bouts of the same type of activity.

Delayed-onset muscle soreness can be avoided by taking the following steps:

  • Follow the 10 % rule and increase your activities by no more than 10 % per week (this goes for distance, intensity, and time)

  • Making reasonable progress can help you avoid harm. You are more likely to perform the exercise poorly if you push too hard or use heavyweights.

  • Warm-up and cool down regularly. The cool-down helps to normalize blood flow and may aid in alleviating inflammation and lactic acid build-up.

If you are unsure how to exercise safely and successfully, get a personal trainer to help you. Even seasoned exercisers can benefit from speaking with a trained professional who can offer tips on improving form and getting the most out of each session.

Conclusion:

Pay attention to your body and carefully observe and notice what it is trying to communicate to you in basic, simple terms. Any training program's ultimate goal is to establish the best balance of work and recovery. So, while you stay focused and motivated on your fitness objectives and routines, make sure you keep your training safe and give yourself plenty of time to properly recover so you can accomplish the improvement you want.

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Mohammed Wajid
Mohammed Wajid

Physiotherapy

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delayed onset muscle sorenessmuscle stiffness
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