Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness: What It Is & Methods To Help Ease Muscle Pain

Ah, delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is that pain you feel in your muscles a day or so after you begin working out. And along with that exercise there are a host of other aches, twinges, places of stiffness, and injuries that come along with doing anything physical for a long time.

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Some of those pains can be cured. Some can't. And some can be made easier to endure.

My goal is to examine delayed onset muscle soreness, tell you what it is, why it is, what you can, can't, and shouldn't do about it, and what you can do to help ease other aches and pains you have.

It's a big goal, but I hope I can ease your pain a little.


Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) can be a real pain, and get in the way of exercise. Learn about it and tips for dealing with the pain.

DOMS symptoms

DOMS is normally characterized by dull, aching pain, stiffness in muscles, and muscular weakness & swelling experienced normally about 24 hours after strenuous exercise and gradually fading over the next few days.[1] Range of motion in joints near the affected muscles will also be decreased.[2]

Depending on how strenuous the exercise was, the pain can peak anywhere from 24-72 hours after the exercise and it can last up to a week.[3]

Delayed onset muscle soreness is normally felt only when the muscle is in use. Only when you attempt to contract, stretch, or push on a muscle (pressure, massage, shiatsu, etc.) will you feel the pain.[4] Which is why you aren't inclined to go to the gym when you have DOMS.

Oh, and even though it may feel similar to the soreness and fatigue that you feel in your muscles during exercise, it isn't. They are two different kinds of muscle pain.[5]


What Causes Muscle Soreness?

Check out this article for more info on what kinds of exercise cause the most muscle soreness, and for a look at other things that cause muscle soreness. Use the ideas to be less sore after your next workout.

And speaking of your next workout...


How Sore Am I? How Sore Should I Be?

There's no really good way to measure pain. There have been attempts with questionnaires, number scales, visual scales, etc. but this has a limited value since pain perception is subjective to the recipient.

So, there's no really good way to compare/study varying levels of pain. Though discussing how horrible it was with friends over a drink is still possible, just know that there's no way to settle the debate of which stupid thing you or your friend did was more strenuous.[6]

But, no matter how much delayed onset muscle soreness you have, you should take a look at ways to lessen it.


Treating Muscle Soreness

This is an overview of some of the ways to beat muscle soreness. There's no way to completely beat it, but there are ways to ease the pain significantly.


What Should I Know About Recovering From Sore Muscles?

Delayed onset muscle soreness can last as long as 7 days if it's really bad, but it hardly ever goes on that long. It normally takes 1-3 days to recover from a workout that's unusually intense, 'till the soreness goes away.

During your recovery, range of motion is gained more rapidly than strength.[7] So you might be able to move around more easily, but it still isn't a good idea to hit the gym hard again, right away.

Also, trained individuals may feel similar levels of muscle soreness as their untrained partners, but with radically different levels of muscle damage. Which makes sense: you would hope that training lifting weights would make your muscles stronger.

And, as that happens, it gets harder and harder to injure your muscles and subsequently cause them to grow. Even if the level of soreness you feel is the same as when you started lifting.[8]

If you have soreness that lingers up to or longer than a week, it may be some structural damage to your body (strain, sprain, damage to some kind of connective tissue, etc.) or trigger points.


Muscle Trigger Points: What They Are, Symptoms, & History

Check out this article to learn tons more about trigger points. Especially if you have a chronic pain problem, this is the place to start to learn more about trigger points and whether they might be causing you pain.

And after that, if you suspect trigger points are causing you pain, take a look at the...


Trigger Point Treatment: A How-To Guide

This guide gives you an overview of the treatment options available for trigger points, and a description of their pros and cons. Look them over and decide which is the best option for you.


Rest Ice Compression Elevation: RICE for injuries

R.I.C.E. is a great first-aid treatment for any immediate injury (falling, turning your ankle, pulling a muscle, etc.). It can really reduce the amount of time you spend recovering from an injury.

Learn how to apply it for best results, as well as why and how it works.


How To Treat Tennis Elbow - Part 1
and
How To Treat Tennis Elbow - Part 2

These two articles are designed to help treat tennis elbow. This means the symptoms of outside-of-the-elbow pain that so often all get lumped together as 'tennis elbow'.

These articles give info on using ice, rest, NSAIDs, trigger point massage, and stretching to cure your own tennis elbow. There's also information on cortisone injections and surgery, should you need to go that far.

Of course, always see your doctor for serious medical conditions. However, these methods have worked for me and I hope they help you with your tennis elbow pain. Whether it's from an inflamed tendon, trigger points, or just delayed onset muscle soreness.


What Causes Muscle Cramps
And Shortcuts For Muscle Cramp Relief!

Ever had painful muscle cramps? Well, if you follow just a few simple tips you'll never get them again - which is seriously a wonderful thing!



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Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS): What It Is & Methods To Help Ease Muscle Pain
References:

1. Tiidus, Peter M. 2008. Skeletal Muscle Damage and Repair. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. Pp. 64.
2. Ibid. Pp. 65.
3. Ylinen, Jari. 2008. Stretching Therapy: For Sport and Manual Therapies. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier. Pp. 25.
4. Tiidus, Peter M. Pp. 63.
5. Ibid.
6. Ibid. Pp. 64.
7. Ibid. Pp. 66.
8. Ibid.

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