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Delated Onset Muscle Soreness

Have you ever worked out on a Monday evening, and woke up on Wednesday feeling incredibly sore? Did your muscles hurt to touch them? Delayed onset muscle soreness, also known as DOMS, is a side effect of the repair process after muscle breakdown occurs with new activity. It is also one of the less appealing aspects of strength and conditioning but a necessary and unavoidable evil.

The effects are usually felt 2-3 days after new exercise because the body takes about 24-72hrs to repair itself. However, there are a few ways to manage DOMS and prevent the soreness from intensifying. One should take advantage of the 12-24 hours before the delayed soreness intensifies and use this window for light movement, stretching, foam-rolling or exercising an alternative part the body to allow the sore muscles to reset. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, “all people are susceptible to DOMS, even those who have been exercising for years. However, the severity of soreness normally becomes less as your body becomes adapted to work it regularly performs. Just one bout of soreness producing exercise actually develops a partial protective effect that reduces the chance of developing soreness in that same activity for weeks or months into the future.”

Movement may initially be uncomfortable but moving and gently stretching your muscles will help decrease soreness in the long run. In contrast, if there is pain, such as sharpness with movement that does not resolve past the 72 day window, the individual should consult a professional to help them learn how to exercise appropriately and how to reach their threshold without causing injury. It is unlikely to begin an exercise program without some soreness afterward, but the best way to prevent intense, delayed levels of soreness is to gradually progress the resistance, repetitions, distance, or time with each exercise. A physical therapist’s job is to prescribe safe and effective exercise, therefore it would be wise consult with one prior to beginning an exercise program once cleared by a medical doctor.

A good way to learn about more regarding DOMS is through the American College of Sports Medicine or click on this website. https://www.acsm.org/docs/brochures/delayed-onset-muscle-soreness-(doms).pdf

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