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DOMS: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

by Alexandra Parren

Stretching UKBFF Triceps Muscles Female Bodybuilder

Have you ever woken up the morning after a tough workout or gym class feeling like you can barely move? That's the beauty of DOMS! 

What causes you to be sore?

DOMS stands for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness and describes the feeling of tightness and aching in your muscles after a tough workout. Typically, DOMS will affect you between 24 and 72 hours after your workout, so you may feel sore the next morning, or you may not feel it until the next evening!

Why do muscles ache after a workout?

You will feel DOMS if you have pushed yourself particularly hard in a workout, tried something new, or are returning after a rest period. It's important to note that if you are very sore after a workout, it doesn't mean you are less fit, everyone will experience muscle soreness if they work hard enough. At the same time, you should not be trying to insight DOMS after every workout; if you don't feel sore the next day, it doesn't mean your session didn't work! 

What is acute muscle soreness?

When you lift weights, your muscles develop small tears in them. It is then the process of eating, sleeping, and resting that allows your muscles to repair and grow back stronger than before that will get you the results you desire. Therefore, the rest and the recovery period is just as important as the training! It is the repair of these tears that cause the muscle soreness, so it's nothing to worry about.

How do you get rid of sore muscles?


The benefits of massage differ greatly from one person to the next and whilst for some it may be a relaxing part of their rehabilitation, others may find it aggravates their tired muscles and leaves them aching more than before. Research in The Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation found massage was effective in reducing DOMS by approximately 30%, as well as inducing a significant reduction in muscle swelling, though it had no effect on the muscle function.

Foam Rolling

Foaming rolling is the process of self-myofascial release, which works through deep tissue massage of ‘trigger points’. These trigger points are the muscle knots which really hurt when they’re touched, making them easy to find and master yourself. By releasing muscle knots with a foam roller, you help restore normal blood flow to the muscle tissue and this will help to relieve the pain. You can read more about foam rolling here.


Rest is crucial to recovery and its needed to repair and grow stronger. Don't train a muscle group if they are already aching. If your training plan calls for a leg workout or a bike ride but your legs are already aching, skip the training session, as your recovery is more important and that training session wouldn't have been successful anyway. 


If your DOMS feels very severe or doesn't go away after a few days, it's probable that you are not eating enough protein. Protein is what helps our muscles and body tissue to repair and recover after stress (ie training) and so getting enough is an important part of the recovery process. Try to get some protein in as soon as possible after a workout (by drinking a protein shake) or make sure you eat a protein-rich meal after you train. If you train in the evening and don't eat afterwards, your muscles will not repair properly and you will feel achy for far longer. 

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