Ways of Wellness - Your online support for all things health and wellness!

Welcome to the Ways of Wellness blog! My name is Jon Steuart and I am a physical fitness and nutrition enthusiast. While all of the contents/opinions herein are based on my personal experiences and research over many years, and not any formal education, I am absolutely confident that there will be something for everybody who is interested in improving their physical and mental well-being. Please feel free to leave your comments and questions.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

One of the most common observations by those who just begin a weightlifting regimen is the extent to which their bodies (and more specifically their muscles) are sore for a couple of days following their workout. This condition is known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness and is more commonly referred to as "DOMS". DOMS, while a nuisance at times, is not necessarily something to be concerned about. Words often used to describe what DOMS feels like are "achy", "tender" and "sore". Naturally, one should be aware of their body and recognize when something may be more serious than DOMS such as a strain or tear. A few signs that what you are experiencing is DOMS:
  • The soreness is associated with the muscles that were worked during a recent workout
  • The severity of soreness often peaks approximately 48-hours post-workout and gradually dissipates until it is gone altogether 24- to 48-hours thereafter (Note: This can vary from person to person)
  • The area may feel a bit inflamed or swollen to the touch
  • The area may feel sensitive to the touch or squeeze.
While many of these symptoms can also be associated with a more serious strain or tear, the key here is the duration and severity of the discomfort that you are experiencing - DOMS should be more of a nuisance than a debilitating pain and should be gone approximately 5 days following the exercise that caused it. If you continue to have feelings of tenderness or soreness, or the area is still swollen, a week or so after onset, I would suggest that you schedule a visit to your doctor for an exam (better to be safe than sorry!)

People will often choose to avoid working those muscle groups that are sore or tender until they have fully recuperated. While this is not a bad approach to take, it is not absolutely necessary. If you are able to work through the discomfort then do so! That being said, do NOT compromise proper form in order to compensate for sore muscles. Doing so will only increase the likelihood of seriously injuring yourself.

What causes DOMS is a bit of a mystery. Lactic acid build-up is often sited as a potential reason. However, studies have shown that lactic acid build-up tends to break down extremely quickly after exercise which essentially renders this hypothesis incorrect. The easiest way to think about DOMS is the feeling(s) caused by micro-tears in the muscles (which is an essential component of muscular growth and development).

My suggestion for handling DOMS is to do one, or a combination, of the following:
  • Get a massage of the area(s) impacted
  • Take a hot bath
  • Do some light stretching immediately after lifting weights (this is just an approach that I take which seems to help me despite a great deal of evidence suggesting its effectiveness)
  • Be patient and wait it out.
DOMS is something that many individuals new to working out will experience early in their training lives. That being said, it is not uncommon for the more experience weightlifter to experience it as well following a change in routine or after taking a break from the gym. Over time, as the muscles adjust and adapt to what it is you are asking (or telling!) them to do, the frequency and severity of DOMS will reduce dramatically and may very well disappear entirely. Until then, just think of the pain, aches and soreness as badges of honor and wear them with pride!


  1. I know some people who attempt weight lifting are passed with this situation. Your information is truly amazing. It is crucial for me. Thanks.

  2. eyelift - Thanks for the comment. It is no surprise that you know people who have experienced DOMS, as it really is quite common. It's just one of those things that most people have to go through on their path to a healthier life. That is of course if they are utilizing weightlifting as one of the tools in their tool box for doing so (which I strongly suggest).

  3. I know Muscles are the most important thing in body. And i also agreed to eyelift. So thanks for your amazing post !