Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS is the term used to describe micro-tears throughout your muscle fibres. This is generally caused when you involve yourself in a new, unfamiliar or increased intensity of exercise.
For example, upping your weight in your pump class, letting your friend Max run you through his new personal training session or your cousin Sarah taking you on a 10km bush walk because it will be “fun”. DOMS can start to creep up on you from 6 hours after your workout, and can last up to 72 hours after depending on your body, your recovery and the workout itself.
Tears…that sounds pretty serious; but no need to worry. Hypertrophy, (aka your muscles increasing in size) can happen as a result of these micro tears across your muscles. However, it is important to note that DOMS is not the only way to gauge if a workout was successful or tough enough. There are other factors that can influence muscle hypertrophy, and therefore feeling those tight, aches and pains the following two days are not necessary if gaining muscle is your goal.
So what’s the difference between DOMS and an injury? Well, usually an injury is fairly immediate. If you notice pain during or straight after your workout, it is important you stop and seek professional advice. Some injuries may take a while to “rear their ugly head” so if you’re still in pain after the 72 hour mark (or if you have any suspicions before then) it is important you seek professional support from your physio or doctor. Ongoing pain can also be due to an overuse injury, so don’t be afraid to take a rest day (or week!) if needed. After all, if you continue to push your body when it needs a break, you run the risk of ruining future workouts and causing permanent damage.
Alright, I can move as much as the tin man after that last session – what should I do?! If you’ve got yourself a severe case of DOMS, the following tricks can help:
- A warm, relaxing bath (some enjoy a bath bomb or salts)
- A slow and steady walk to release some tension and help blood flow to the tears
- Foam roll and stretch gently, remember pain is an important indicator so use her wisely
If in doubt about the pain you are experiencing, ensure you seek professional advice from your physiotherapist or doctor. The team at Progressive Sports & Spinal Physiotherapy are experienced in a range of areas including rehabilitation and injury management. Get in touch with the team today by calling (02) 4721 7798, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by booking an initial assessment here.