Book your free consult call

, ,

Dealing with Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

Dealing with Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

DOMS, or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, is the usual aftermath of a new and or more aggressive training regime.

It is characterised by feeling stiff during the 24-48 hour period post an intense exercise session, or when training new exercises. There has been plenty of research done to both determine how DOMS is caused and more importantly how to prevent it.

Good news

The good news about DOMS is that its your body’s way of telling you that you have pushed your targeted muscle group far enough to force it to adapt. This means that until the intensity, frequency or duration of the exercise that caused it is increased, you shouldn’t not see DOMS again. In short, you will come back stronger once the DOMS has subsided.


DOMS is caused by eccentric muscular contraction…translation –when your muscle lengthens under tension during exercise, it is eccentrically contracting (i.e. when you are performing a bicep curl, the part of the exercise when your arm is straight is the eccentric part of the exercise).


There is no cure for DOMS…however…
There are a few things you can do to reduce the intensity of DOMS

  • Ibuprofen: excellent for pain relief as well as reducing inflammation
  • Ice & heat: this combination will succeed in reducing inflammation, restoring circulation. To use this method, apply an ice pack to the affected area for 15 minutes, remove, apply heat to the same area for 15 minutes, then go back to the ice again for 15 minutes.
  • Programming: there are two ways you can prevent DOMS during programme design:
    • Light weights: if you are a beginner, start lifting with lighter weights until you become confortable with the movements (i.e. one month to 6 weeks). Then gradually the weight to avoid intense DOMS. This is not guarantee that you will not feel stiffness, but by gradual increases you will avoid feeling crippling stiffness like you have ‘overdone’ it.
    • Movement selection: reduce exercises with high intensity, or high frequency eccentric movements, a=then gradually introduce these movements as you become stronger (i.e. running is fine, but limit your intense downhill running for the first month, then gradually introduce it.) This is because when you downhill run you extend your quadriceps to absorb shock and fight against gravity, so slow introduction following a 4-6 week ‘preparatory phase’ will result in less stiffness and a more enjoyable training experience.

If you have any questions or would like to feed back on this post please visit my Facebook page here.

To learn more about healthy exercise and eating habits to achieve your fitness goals, contact James Staring, a leading personal trainer in Clapham, London.


James StaringJames Staring is a personal trainer based in Clapham, London. His methods have featured in publications such as Your Fitness, Hello, Healthy, Daily Mail, Closer, and many more. After giving up smoking and entering the fitness industry in 2009, James has focused on his passion to help others transform their health and fitness. However, James is convinced that most people struggle so much more than they need to in an effort to improve their fitness. Through his company, Fit to Last, which he runs with his partner, Ali Page – James has helped hundreds of men and women make small adjustments in their daily habits to transform their fitness and to love how they look and feel.


Leave a comment