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Everything You Need To Know About DOMS


If you have ever felt pain in your muscles the day after an intense workout then you have experienced DOMS.

What are they though? Is there anything you can do to prevent or treat them?

Let’s look at them in more detail, shall we?[toc]

What Are DOMS?

DOMS stands for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness but what it refers to is the muscle stiffness, soreness and the reduced mobility that you experience after a workout.

The pain experienced can vary from mild pain to a severe one that may include some swelling.

These symptoms will depend on a number of factors such as how hard you worked out, and how fit you are. Your genetics may also be a factor.

Why Do We Get DOMS?

DOMS are caused by the breaking down of muscle tissue, often after a particularly hard resistance training workout.

The soreness occurs when the tissue is torn, but can also be a result of the swelling of the sheath that surrounds the muscle tissue, or damage to the connective tissue.

How To Treat DOMS?

There are a number of ways to treat DOMS. In fact, we have written an article specifically for this (you can read this article here).

Without going into too much detail you should consider the following:

  • Make sure you warm-up and cool down
  • Sleep more
  • Eat a diet rich in protein
  • Boost testosterone
  • Consider foam rolling
  • Take an ice bath
  • Wear compression workout clothes
  • Don’t push yourself past your limits
  • Use a pain relief cream
  • Take a hot bath
  • Active recovery

How To Prevent DOMS?

Some people would say that the only way to truly prevent DOMS is by avoiding exercise entirely, but this is probably not the best idea, for obvious reasons.

While it may not be possible to stop DOMS entirely, there are things that you can do before you even step foot in the gym that can help reduce the pain you will experience over the coming days.

For instance, if you were to drink a caffeinated tea or coffee before a workout you could potentially reduce the risk of encountering soreness [1].

Other methods you can use to prevent DOMS include:

1. You should try and keep hydrated throughout the workout.

2. Try and replace lost electrolytes while exercising. These electrolytes help to regulate your heartbeat, muscular contractions and nerve function.

3. Immediately after a workout, you should eat a post-workout snack made with a ratio of 4:1 carbohydrates to protein. This is to restore the nutrients lost while working out.

4. Eat some cherries or drink some cherry tart juice [2], as they contain anthocyanin that will increase the rate that oxygen is transferred to your muscles. The quicker your recovery the less pain you will experience.

5. Training more often is also a good way to prevent DOMS. This is because your muscle becomes more accustomed to intense training.

6. Eating watermelon is a good idea as it is packed full of nutrients, including L-citrulline, which can help reduce muscle soreness when eaten prior to exercise [3].


Here are some frequently asked questions about DOMS. If you have any of your own then you can submit them below using the comment form provided.

Why Do DOMS Feel Worse The Day After The Day After?

While you will start to experience the pain within 24 hours, the peak will typically be around the 48-hour mark before it starts to subside.

Can I Workout With DOMS?

Yes, you can workout with DOMS.

If the pain is too bad then there are things that you can do to alleviate the pain. Active recovery is one of these methods too.

So rather than doing nothing while you are in pain, I would recommend doing something, even if it is just a short walk.

Is It Bad To Workout When Your Muscles Are Sore?

Unless you have an injury then it is perfectly fine to exercise while you are sore from a previous workout session.

I would say that if you are still experiencing significant pain after a few minutes of warming up then it might be best to skip a session.

How Long After DOMS Can I Exercise?

I would recommend giving yourself 48 hours between working out the same muscle group.

So if you were to work your legs on Monday I would recommend not working them again till Wednesday or Thursday.

Does Stretching Help DOMS?

Yes, stretching can help with DOMS so I would highly recommend some light stretching both before and after you work out.

How Can I Recover From DOMS Fast?

We have already discussed some methods you can use to help recover from DOMS.

What To Eat For Muscle Soreness?

The following foods are recommended for muscle soreness:

  • Berries – they contain antioxidants and resveratrol that can reduce inflammation
  • Turmeric – this is an anti-inflammatory that contains curcumin that acts as a pain reliever [4]
  • Eggs – they are rich in protein, which is incredibly important for muscle recovery
  • Milk – a glass of milk has been shown to reduce inflammation [5]
  • Fish – a good source of protein, and omega-3 fatty acids that can help reduce inflammation
  • Cherry juice – research has found that drinking this juice can reduce pain after workouts
  • Leafy greens – full of nutrients and antioxidants that can reduce inflammation and stress
  • Pomegranates – can work as a natural anti-inflammatory, therefore reducing muscle soreness

Eating these foods will help to boost recovery, and there are plenty of other benefits to be gained from eating these foods too.

Does Ibuprofen Help With DOMS?

NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen can help to relieve the pain and discomfort you will experience.

I would caution against using NSAIDs regularly. Long term side effects of using NSAIDs [6] include:

  • Stomach pain and heartburn
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Ringing in your ears
  • Liver or kidney problems
  • High blood pressure

How Do You Stop DOMS After Leg Day?

You can stop DOMS after leg day using the same techniques mentioned above. For example, using effective pain relief, foam rolling and active recovery.

Is Being Sore A Sign Of Muscle Growth?

Research has found that there is very little evidence to suggest that muscle soreness equals muscle growth [7][8][9].

Can DOMS Make You Feel Sick?

If you feel sick or nauseous after working out then it is best that you cut back on the intensity of your session.

Consistently feeling sick after working out is a sign that you are possibly overdoing it.

How Long Do DOMS Last?

The length of time that DOMS last will depend on the level of damage caused to the muscle.

Typically it will take between 12-48 hours for the onset of pain, this can then last up to 72 hours after working out.

Which Exercises Cause DOMS?

There is no particular exercise that causes DOMS.

Over-stretching while under load or a failure to warm up adequately before lifting weights can cause DOMS. Trying a totally different exercise is also a cause.

Final Thoughts: Are DOMS A Sign Of A Good Workout

While it is normal to experience pain and discomfort after working out, especially if you have just started a new workout regime. If you are still feeling sore 3 or more days after then this is probably a sign that something is wrong with your regime.

Experiencing or not experiencing DOMS is not a sign of a good workout. So if you come away from a workout not feeling sore this does not mean that you have not worked out hard enough, or that you are not going to see any benefits.

What I would recommend to ensure you are seeing the full benefits of your training, is to ensure you choose one that focusses on progressive overload.

A regime like this will constantly be pushing your boundaries, and you will have proof that you are progressing.

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