What Is DOMS? About Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

Delayed-onset muscle soreness, or DOMS, is muscle pain and stiffness that begins long after you’ve worked out. Does exercise make your muscles achy and stiff for days? Don’t stop exercising! This article explains what is DOMS and how to mitigate Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.

What is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

Pain felt immediately after a workout is acute muscle soreness. That generally only lasts a few hours.

But DOMS, or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, is stiffness that appears several hours later, even 1-3 days after a workout.

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness Symptoms

Symptoms of DOMS include:

    • muscles that feel tender to the touch
    • reduced range of motion
    • swelling or inflammation
    • temporary muscle weakness

Who Gets Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness?

It’s common in athletes, dancers, and people just starting an exercise program.  It is also common amongst weight lifters and those who have lapsed in their regular exercise program and then resume.

When Does Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness Happen?

According to The American College of Sports Medicine DOMS occurs most with eccentric exercise. Eccentric exercise tense and extend muscles at the same time. Running downhill or lifting weights with the bicep are examples. It causes inflammation within 24 to 72 hours of physical activity. [1]

What Causes Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)?

Delayed-onset muscle soreness is a reaction to the damage the muscles have sustained. Exercise creates micro-tears in the muscles. As the body adapts to the new exercise, the pain decreases.

What can you do to reduce the stiffness and pain of DOMS?

Ways to Treat Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

Here are ways to treat DOMS before, during and after a workout.

1. Saffron can Ease Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

In a controlled research laboratory study, 300mg of Saffron taken before exercise [2] was shown to have the ability to greatly reduce the pain from DOMS.

2. Have a Cup of Coffee Before a Workout

Studies show consuming caffeinated coffee one hour before strenous exercise decreases DOMS pain by up to 48%. [3]

3. Stay Well Hydrated

Dehydration makes muscle soreness worse.  Hydrate well before a workout. Take hydration breaks during your workout and rehydrate after your workout. [4]

4. Massage reduces Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

A professional massage after a workout eases exercise pain and promotes better blood flow. Can’t book a massage? Try a percussion Massage Gun to treat deep muscle pain.

5. Apply Ice after a Workout

Ice is an anti-inflammatory and can reduce DOMS muscle pain.  Apply an ice pack wrapped in a thin cloth alternating for 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off.  Cold water baths are also effective

6. Post Exercise Beverage: Tart Cherry Juice

A study showed that Tart Cherry Juice after a workout reduces inflammation as well as muscle damage. [5]

7. Stay active to Ease Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

When you are sore, do light exercise like yoga, stretching, light cycling and walking. These all improve blood circulation which enhances muscle recovery.

Unless you are a professional athlete, you can alternate exercise days to reduce muscle stiffness. I like to exercise a different muscle group, such as a legs day alternating with an arms day.

Summary of How to relieve DOMS: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness can be relieved with natural remedies such as ice or cold baths, massage, cool down workouts like low-intensity cycling, and adequate hydration. DOMS affects athletes, dancers and new exercisers alike. See a doctor if pain lasts more than five days.

Was What Is DOMS: About Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness useful? Then you may like to know more about the Superfoods clinically proven to reduce the pain and inflammation from DOMS such as ginger, Turmeric, and Red Ginseng.


References on Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

  1. American College of Sports Medicine, 2011, https://www.acsm.org/docs/default-source/files-for-resource-library/delayed-onset-muscle-soreness-(doms).pdf?sfvrsn=8f430e18_2
  2. Meamarbashi, Abbas PhD; Rajabi, Ali MSc Preventive Effects of 10-Day Supplementation With Saffron and Indomethacin on the Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness, Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: March 2015 – Volume 25 – Issue 2 – p 105-112 doi: 10.1097/JSM.000000000000011
  3. Maridakis, Victor et al. Caffeine Attenuates Delayed-Onset Muscle Pain and Force Loss Following Eccentric Exercise, The Journal of Pain, Volume 8, Issue 3, 237 – 243
  4. Cleary MA, Sweeney LA, Kendrick ZV, Sitler MR. Dehydration and symptoms of delayed-onset muscle soreness in hyperthermic males. J Athl Train. 2005;40(4):288-297.
  5. Howatson G, McHugh MP, Hill JA, Brouner J, Jewell AP, van Someren KA, Shave RE, Howatson SA. Influence of tart cherry juice on indices of recovery following marathon running. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2010 Dec;20(6):843-52. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.2009.01005.x. PMID: 19883392.

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