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It can be frustrating to have delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) after rigorous exercise. Maybe you want to work out the next day but your muscles are just too sore and you don’t know what to do. Don’t worry, having DOMS doesn’t mean you have to stop working out altogether. We have the answers for your pressing questions about muscle soreness and how to get back into your routine.

In This Article:

  1. What is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness?
  2. Why Does DOMS Happen?
  3. Who Does DOMS Affect?
  4. When Does DOMS Occur?
  5. How Long Does DOMS Last?
  6. How Can I Treat DOMS?
  7. How Can I Prevent DOMS?
  8. How Often Will I Get DOMS?

Frequently Asked Questions about Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

What is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness?

What is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness? | Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness: What It Is And How To Treat It | delayed onset muscle soreness treatment

Delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS, is the pain and discomfort in your muscles after a new or strenuous physical activity. DOMS symptoms include stiffness, tenderness, and dull pain in the muscles.

Why Does DOMS Happen?

When you perform physical activity your body isn’t used to, like a new workout regime, a change in your exercise routine, or working out longer than usual, your muscles have to work harder. This causes microtraumas or microscopic damage to your muscle fibers, which leads to inflammation.

It also causes fluid and electrolyte shifts, which means the balance in fluid and electrolyte levels is disrupted.

Who Does DOMS Affect?

Anyone performing new or unfamiliar physical activity can experience DOMS. If you’re working out for the first time or trying a different exercise routine, you may be more prone to experience DOMS.

This is because you’re exposing your muscles to activities they aren’t used to. Don’t feel bad if you’re feeling that post-workout pain because even accomplished athletes experience DOMS.

When Does DOMS Occur?

Don’t confuse DOMS with muscle cramping, which happens during the workout. DOMS usually happens a day or two after your workout, though some feel pain as early as six to eight hours post-exercise.

The pain usually peaks around 24 to 48 hours after your workout.

How Long Does DOMS Last?

DOMS lasts around three to five days. You may experience weakness and a reduced range of motion in the affected areas during those days.

How Can I Treat DOMS?

How Can I Treat DOMS? | What Is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness And How To Treat It | exercising with doms

Inflammation of the muscles causes the pain you experience when you have DOMS. This means your DOMS treatment should focus on treating the inflammation.

  • Apply heat. You can treat the pain by applying heat packs, which are better and more effective for soreness than cold packs. Heat warms the muscles and encourages blood flow, both of which reduce soreness. You can also take a long bath in warm water.
  • Foam rolling. Foam rolling is a type of self-massage in which you use foam rollers with your body weight to relieve pain. Exerting pressure on the soft tissue helps activate your muscles and reduces soreness. Foam rolling has been found by experts to encourage better physical performance and quicker recovery.
  • Light exercises. Moving around and doing light training also helps your muscle recover faster. Exercising with DOMS can be painful, but performing light physical activities or doing easier workouts helps reduce muscle soreness and even prevent it. Try doing lighter exercises with the affected areas.

How Can I Prevent DOMS?

Here are a few ways to prevent DOMS:

  • Pre-workout warm-ups. One of the simplest ways to prevent DOMS is to remember to warm up to prep your muscles before a strenuous workout. Warming up not only reduces the risk of muscle soreness, it also helps reduce the risk of joint pain as an added benefit. You can try stretching or doing cardio like walking or light jogging for ten to fifteen minutes.
  • Pre-workout snacks. You can also prevent DOMS by eating a protein-packed snack before your workout, not just after, to strengthen your muscles.
  • Stay hydrated. Always remember to hydrate with water or a sports drink to replenish electrolytes.
  • Get some heat. Getting some heat in your muscles is also a good way to increase circulation for better blood flow, so try getting in a sauna or jacuzzi after your workout.
  • Post-workout meals. Remember to eat after a workout. Try eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, soybeans, walnuts, sardines, mackerel, and linseed oil to prevent inflammation.
  • Post-workout movement. Try to keep moving even after your workout. Even going for a short walk or playing some light sports helps in preventing DOMS.

How Often Will I Get DOMS?

DOMS happens because your body is getting used to the new activity you’re performing. So allow your body to adapt to the new activity and take the steps to prevent DOMS, and you’ll reduce the risk of getting DOMS again.


Watch this video to learn the things one should remember before working out:

Remember to keep moving around and resist the urge to lie in bed all day when you have DOMS. Get your body used to more activity and soon that soreness will be gone. DOMS is painful and inconvenient, but you can overcome and prevent it with these simple tips.

Did you learn more about treating and preventing DOMS? What do you do when you’re experiencing muscle soreness? We’d love to hear your thoughts, so comment below! 

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