What is DOMS?


What is DOMS?

You’ve probably felt it after charging back into exercise after hibernating through Spring. DOMS or Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness, as the name implies, is that lovely muscular ache that develops after exercise – usually between 24 and 48 hours after. It generally occurs after high-intensity, unaccustomed exercise, and is especially prevalent when there have been eccentric movements. Eccentric exercise involves movements where the muscles are contracting whilst lengthening, e.g downhill or long-distance running.

You may love it or hate it – love it because it affirms that you’ve had a decent workout, or hate it because, well, it hurts. So, you might be wondering what is the cause of all this pain?

DOMS is the result of micro tears in the muscle fibres, which causes an inflammatory response in the muscle. Any swelling, weakness, impaired function or pain should start to subside after about 48 hours, and you can start to enjoy the benefits of your suffering. When the micro tears in the muscle fibres recover they actually become stronger, firmer and larger.

How should you treat DOMS?

Initially, it is important to rest the affected areas, and administer an anti-inflammatory application such as ice or an anti-inflammatory gel. Having a bath with one or two cups of Epsom salts can also be beneficial as it is rich in magnesium. Magnesium assists with muscle relaxation, while also helping to dilate your blood vessels to allow blood to flow to and from your injured muscles.

Gentle massage and the use of pressure garments may also help to reduce the duration and severity of DOMS.

What to avoid

Deep tissue massage and excessive muscle stretching should be avoided within the first 24 hours. Try to avoid aggressive exercise whilst recovering, as your muscles are less able to cope with the various demands being placed upon them.

DOMS is a clinical diagnosis, so you are best advised to seek the advice and treatment of an experienced physiotherapist. At Hoppers Physio our therapists are highly skilled and experienced in the treatment of soft tissue injury. Schedule an appointment with a friendly Hoppers Physio today on (03) 9749 5110, and get back to strengthening your muscles sooner!