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Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness

Being sore after a workout is completely normal. But why does the soreness not show up for 24 to 48 hours later? You are experiencing Delayed onset of Muscle Soreness (DOMS). It is essential to understand that pain and soreness are two completely different feelings. Pain is an indicator that something is not right. It is essential to listen to your body and have an awareness of how your body expresses pain vs. soreness. Everyone has a different pain tolerance. Pushing through pain can cause long-term damage to your joints and your body. During this article, it is important to know that we are referring to soreness, not pain. So what is DOMS, how much soreness is too much, and what can you do about it?

There are multiple types of muscle soreness that you may experience during or after your workout. Not all muscle soreness is created equal. Soreness during your workout or shortly after is called acute muscle soreness. This soreness arrives when you are nearing your last set/rep or pushing your way through an intense bout of exercise. This type of soreness will dissipate shortly after the exercise is over. If you experience pain during an exercise, this is likely due to an injury or using improper form during an exercise. Improving your form or modifying your exercise to prevent long-term harm is essential. Physical Therapy is an excellent start if you experience pain during your workouts. As we said earlier, never push through the pain. If your soreness arrives 24-48 hours after your workout, you are experiencing delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS). Your DOMS will typically peak after 2-3 days, and the pain will subside. This type of soreness will most likely happen if you are new to exercise, change your workout style, or intensify your workouts.

Is DOMS a normal part of the workout process? Yes, it is absolutely normal! You must push your body above and beyond your regular activity to change your muscle strength. When pushing heavier weight or changing your workout style, you produce tiny microscopic tears in your muscle tissue. When this happens, your body stimulates the inflammatory process. The inflammatory process brings minor swelling to the muscle tissue for healing. During this healing process, your muscles grow stronger, and you will slowly gain the strength needed to withstand that exercise. This is why your workouts get easier over time. When you do the same exercises repeatedly, your body adapts to that exercise. When your body adapts to the exercise, you will maintain your progress; however, the muscle growth stops. This is why it is essential to switch up your exercise routines. You can do this by changing your workout weights, reps, and styles.

What can I do to reduce the soreness of DOMS?

  • Rest

Rest is just as critical as the workout itself. One great way to rest is to break up your workouts. Work on one or two muscle groups at a time. This means that if you worked your biceps on Monday, you would want to give your biceps a break for a day or two, allowing the healing process to take place.

  • Stretching

Slow movements are a great way to relieve the discomfort of DOMS. Movements including swimming, walking, or dynamic range of motion should feel great on your muscles. This type of movement does not delay or increase the inflammatory process; however, it will lessen the discomfort of DOMS.

  • Cryotherapy/Hydrotherapy

Cold packs or ice baths are a great way to decrease the symptoms of DOMS. Heat can feel suitable for short durations of time. Heat will increase the inflammation process, so you want to limit your heat to no more than 15 minutes. Soaking in a warm tub with Epsom salt is another great way to ease your muscle soreness.

  • Massage Therapy

Massage is a great way to increase blood circulation. When you increase the blood circulation, you increase the healing time of your recovery. Massage can also feel great on the muscles.

Are there ways to avoid DOMS altogether? I am not sure that you will want to! While the muscle soreness can be uncomfortable, it is a sign that your muscles are growing stronger. For those who work out regularly, you learn to be comfortable with the discomfort and sometimes look forward to it. Some ways you can lessen the soreness is to

  • · Stay hydrated

  • · Warm-up

  • · Increase your resistance and weights slowly

  • · Always cool down

As we mentioned, acute muscle soreness and DOMS are different from pain. Pain is a warning that something is not right. Physical therapy is a great way to start if you are having pain with your workouts. Wellness 360 Physical Therapy and Massage Therapy, PLLC, offers the best of both worlds. We offer physical therapy to decrease or reverse your joint pain; we offer multiple fitness classes with modifications for you specifically. We modify our workouts according to your needs for long-term fitness support. We also offer massage therapy to ease your post-workout muscle soreness.

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