9 Best Ways to Treat DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness)
Does your new workout program and exercises leave you with muscle soreness? Here are a few ways to reduce DOMS and prevent future discomfort.
Although it may feel like you can’t walk when you experience DOMS, you’ll survive. If you’ve experienced DOMS before, you probably took it one of two ways: “I’m never doing this whole working out thing ever again!”, or maybe “I’m so sore! I’m a rock star! Yeah, buddy!”
What is DOMS?
DOMS stands for delayed onset muscle soreness. If you’ve experienced it before, it’s most likely taken place 24-48 hours after a heavier than usual workout session. If you’re upping your mileage, speed, or weights suddenly, you may experience DOMS.
DOMS causes microscopic damage to muscle fibers in your body, and can be prevented. Symptoms of delayed onset muscle soreness include:
- sore muscles that are tender to the touch
- increased muscle soreness with movement (like your quads, while walking up or down stairs)
- muscle weakness and limited range of motion for affected area(s)
How Long Does it Take for DOMS to Go Away?
Depending on how heavy your workout was, DOMS may go away in a day or may stick around for a few days. If you did a particularly difficult workout, or worked a new muscle group in a new way, you may find yourself feeling pretty miserable. DOMS usually only lasts 3-4 days max, but when you’re sore, it definitely feels like forever.
Best Ways to Ease DOMS
Your best bet is to try and prevent delayed onset muscle soreness, but if you find yourself feeling sore, here are a few ways to help ease that pain.
Massage: Getting a gentle massage – professionally or by your partner or friend – can help release some of that soreness you’re feeling.
Keep it light. Skipping your heavy workout for a few days is a great way to allow your body to rest, but you don’t have to sit around!
In fact, getting up and moving can help you feel better. Stick with light options such as walking or water activities.
Soak in the tub. Epsom salts are your other new best friend. Not all Epsom salts are created equal. I like the ones with essential oils added.
Wear the right clothes. Workout clothing can be expensive, but when you feel the difference between regular cheap $5 workout clothes and compression clothing (that may be upwards of $50), you’ll know it’s worth it. Here are a few places where I personally buy my active wear:
Eat right. I have a TON of recipes here on The Bewitchin’ Kitchen designed to help you reach your goals. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Greek Chicken Souvlaki
- Coconut Curry Chicken Meatballs (with Video)
- Santa Fe Chicken Salad
- Three Pepper Salad
- Blueberry Breakfast Bars
Ways to Prevent DOMS
Honestly, the internet is full of ideas on how to treat DOMS, how to prevent DOMS, and more.
We all have our own opinions and while some are backed by science, others are unproven. However, I feel like it’s worth trying everything to prevent DOMS, and you’ll probably agree if you have experienced it before! 😉
Do a full warm up and cool down. It’s easy to get excited and want to dive right into your workout, especially if you’re doing a fun one like (insert your workout recommendations here), but a proper warm up and cool down are essential to preventing DOMS.
How long is a “proper” warm up?
Experts will give you varying answers, but give your body about 15 minutes of stretching/movement. This ensures you’ll be fully ready to take on a tough or new workout while minimizing your chance of DOMS.
Stay hydrated. You know your personal best as far as water goes, so drink that amount every day. Drinking a little more on training days is a good habit to get into, too. Struggling with drinking more water? I love these cups and they remind me to drink all day long.
You can also use apps like Plant Nanny, Pee and See, or set daily reminders on your phone.
Over on my nutrition site, I talk about ways to drink more water, check that out.
Supplement. I have been working hard lately in my fitness and upping my weights during my strength training but I haven’t been as sore as I used to. I changed the whey protein I used to a recover formula and I’m guessing this is what’s helping me ease DOMS. This is what I’m using right now.
Go slow. While you may be tempted to go zero to ninety right away when you start working out (because, hello, you want results!), take a step back and breathe.
Working your way up is going to be much better for your mind and body, and actually increases the chance of you sticking with your workout routine. If you get injured, you’re back at square one and unable to work out. Take your time. Use your rest days for yoga, swimming, walking, or other light activities.