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Madhura Mohan

Posted on November 20 2020


t’s hot outside, gloomy, raining, late from office, woke up late, wondering what am I saying? While the reasons you’ll find to escape from your training session are unlimited, there’s yet another prime reason added to the list – DOMS.

Yes, guys, DOMS, aka Delayed Onset Of Muscle Soreness could make everything from walking down the stairs to putting on your shirt feel unbearable for you (depending on the muscles worked beforehand). Generally, being sore scares people away from starting a new workout program, which is especially true among women…that’s because women are delicate darlings you see…

I’m not saying all this to blame you guys, after all, I am no exception, I too have witnessed this, I’d quit my training fearing the muscle soreness.

In this blog, you’ll learn what’s the deal with DOMS? What causes it, you’ll get tips on how to reduce it and learn much more about DOMS…

I’ll keep it one on one questionnaire type for your easy understanding…let’s go…



DOMS is an abbreviation to Delayed Onset Of Muscle Soreness. The typical feeling of soreness, achy, painful feeling in the muscle often accompanied by localized swelling is DOMS. DOMS is usually an outcome of unfamiliar or unaccustomed intense exercise. The reason why it is referred as delayed is because the stiffness or soreness doesn’t set in directly after a workout, it sets in anywhere from 12 hours following the activity and peaks within 48 hours after completion of a workout.

Is training your muscles the direct causative of DOMS, does everyone who trains encounter it? What exactly is DOMS? Read on to know…



DOMS should not be thought of a resultant of gym workout, let me tell you, DOMS is part of muscle adaptation process which results from microscopic tearing of muscle fibres, it could result from any movement, and is a very common experience for everyone –from novice exercisers to elite athletes. The soreness is part of the muscle repair process in adapting to exercise.

  •  Certain types of exercises like strength training or eccentric movement, which involve muscle lengthening as it contracts, for example, lowering phase of a squat, when you lower on a bicep curl, your muscles will lengthen, resistance band exercise, running downhill (causes your thigh muscles to lengthen on the downhill), plyometrics (exercises where your muscles are meant to exert fast, powerful movement) like hopping, jumping rope, lunges, squats will all cause DOMS. Certain aerobic exercises, running, cycling, swimming, brisk walking will also cause DOMS.

  • Eccentric muscle contractions result in greater disruption as they recruit fewer motor units and causes greater injury to the structural elements of the muscle and connective tissue than concentric forms of activity. The increased tension per unit area causes DOMS.

  • You have recently started a new regime or sudden changing of existing exercise.

  • A sudden increase in the intensity of existing exercise. Example, imagine an athlete had last participated in a 10km running, and now he suddenly tries to cover double the distance.

  • When you encounter muscle tearing, your immune cells rush to the injured site to repair the damage and suppresses it over 2-4 days. A few days later you do the same exercise, this time your immune system is ready for it, so when something gets stirred up, it is much more effectively dealt with.

  • Reduction in fluid levels and a corresponding disruption in the optimal level of electrolytes may also cause DOMS.



  • Muscle pain and tenderness

  • Compromised range of motion

  • Tightness and stiffness

  • Localized swelling in affected muscles

  • Impaired muscular force

  • Functional limitation

  • Muscle fatigue or whole body fatigue



      DOMS can last around 2-3 days, in some, it may last up to a week, depending on the intensity of the exercise you were doing.


      IS DOMS BAD?

      Not at all, it’s perfectly fine to get DOMS. As told earlier, when your muscles are introduced to a new workout, or if you workout after a long break, you could experience muscle soreness for up to 72 hours. This is not to worry, your muscles will adapt to it within a matter of days, and if you do the same exercise again, you don’t feel the same pain as the last time, hence your recovery time will be quicker than last time.



      That’s a nice question again. Most people think they are one and the same but are not. DOMS comes after you’ve exercised, typically starts lately. Muscle strain means injury to the muscle (generally in lower back, neck, shoulder). When you sustain a muscle strain, you’ll feel the pain immediately in response to the injury. It usually occurs due to pulled muscle or overstretched muscle.  


      Now, I’m going to answer the next interesting question…



      The discomfort what you feel due to DOMS is not permanent, it’s only temporary, it will last till your muscles adjust to the new exercise and grow stronger. So, what you can do during DOMS is to let the afflicted muscles to heal and exercise the non-affected areas (another muscle group) to preserve the better level of fitness. Take for example, if your legs hurt from a run, workout your arms or shoulder during the next session. During DOMS, you could try different types of exercise that won’t place much stress on the sore muscles. Doing nothing can make DOMS worse because being sedentary doesn’t encourage blood flow to the sore muscles. You need not try high-intensity exercise but can definitely engage in low intensity, non-strenuous exercise.


      The typical avid bodybuilders follow the split workout routine to keep up the pace.

      Also read our blog



      Not necessarily. DOMS is not to be associated with fitness gains. DOMS can result in response to cycling, rock climbing, simple skipping or any activity you are introduced to for the first time. Although it’s true that soreness leads to gains, you must also understand here that soreness means your body is adapting to a new stimulus. Not getting DOMS doesn’t mean you are not having a good workout, it just means you may be going at a steady pace.



      Although there’s not one proven formula to prevent or avoid DOMS, you can follow these simple tips to reduce it.

      • Those new to a workout altogether need to introduce to a new workout gradually.

      • Don’t hurriedly increase the intensity, build your exercise routine slowly.

      • Stretching is a must before and after your workout, DOMS can be reduced through an introduction to a focused warm-up and cool down regime. A good warm-up prepares your body for the intense stimulus of your workout. Stretching after exercise may not although prevent DOMS, it can definitely help you retain mobility and flexibility.

      • Don’t look for a short cut relief and take heavy dosage analgesic, all your muscles need is proper rest.

      • You can repeat the workout you did at a gentle and lower intensity.

      • Allow your muscles some time to recover by resting before repeating the same activity.

      • Ice bath or body massage may find you some relief.

      • Do not overwork your muscles.                                                 

      In the end, I’d suggest you to tailor your workout plan to your individual strength and fitness level. Do not make comparisons with others…keep your exercise regime realistic and push yourself gradually…


      It’s vital to include rest and recovery into any workout routine in order to continue to show improvements…


      Also read: Benefits Of Pushups - The Efficient Bodyweight Exercise

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