DOMS: what is it and what is it due to

28 September 2019

Fitness

You have probably heard about DOMS at the gym or heard someone talking about it as they struggle walking days after a vigorous workout. Now you might be wondering, ‘what is DOMS’ and ‘how can I avoid it?’ Let’s go on to find out.

What is DOMS?

Delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS, is exercise-related muscle pain and stiffness felt hours to days after vigorous exercise. If you have ever had trouble walking downstairs after a leg workout due to muscle soreness, this is most likely due to DOMS. It is often described as deep muscle soreness and may even feel similar to a muscle strain.

What is DOMS due to?

The exact cause of DOMS is unknown. However, it is commonly said that delayed onset muscle soreness is due to myofibril tears, or muscle strains. If you workout past your usual intensity or stress different muscles that you usually don’t work as hard, one can experience DOMS. Even elite athletes can experience DOMS.

Genetics, dehydration and metabolic stress can also be a factor in the onset of DOMS.

What to do if you have DOMS

  • Active rest
  • Reduce inflammation by measures such as icing
  • Wear compression garments
  • Low-impact activities such as walking or swimming
  • Use a foam roller
  • Stretch your muscles

How to prevent DOMS

  • When beginning with a new workout regime, advance slowly
  • Don’t push yourself too far during a workout
  • Hydrate properly
  • Start out with a proper warm-up, including dynamic stretches
  • End with a cool down

Now let’s go on to learn some warm-up exercises as well as cool down stretches that help to prevent DOMS.

Warm-up:

Swinging High Kicks

  • Raise one leg, while keeping it straight extend it behind you while allowing yourself to bend at the waist.
  • Kick the raised leg forward as far as you can without allowing it to bend at the knee.
  • Bring your leg back down to a standing position with your feet shoulder width apart.
  • Complete subsequent reps starting from step 2, alternating legs.

Heel Touches

  • First, lie on the floor facing upwards with your legs bent and arms by your side.
  • Without moving your lower body or raising your arms from the ground, bend your torso to one side so that you can slide your palms across the floor as far as you can.
  • Return to a position where your torso is in line with your hips.
  • Complete subsequent reps starting from step 2, alternating the direction of bending.

High Knees

  • First, position both of your feet shoulder width apart while standing upright.
  • Raise one leg in front of you while bending it and preventing motion in your torso.
  • Bring your leg back down to a standing position with your feet shoulder width apart.
  • Complete subsequent reps starting from step 2, alternate legs.

Bicycles

  • First, lie on the floor facing upwards with your legs bent and hands on your head for support.
  • Raise both of your legs while maintaining bent knees so that your thighs are roughly perpendicular to the ground.
  • Inhale and begin to bring your chest up, rotating your torso in one direction while bringing the opposite leg into your abs.
  • Continue until your knee makes contact with the opposite elbow. Exhale while bringing your leg back to a position perpendicular to the floor, and lowering your upper back until it is almost in contact with the ground.
  • Complete subsequent reps starting from step 3, alternating the direction of rotation and leg used.

Arm Circles

  • First, position both of your feet shoulder width apart while standing upright.
  • Extend your arms parallel to the floor and engage your abs.
  • Circle your arms in small controlled motion.
  • Reverse directions after about 10 seconds.

Cool down

A proper cool down after exercising gives your body to rest and remove lactic acid, and it greatly helps to reduce the potential for DOMS. It also increases blood flow and helps to deliver nutrients to the muscles you just worked out.

5-10 minutes is the standard for a cool-down.

Cool down exercises:

Lying Glute Stretch

  • Begin by lying on your back on the floor with arms and legs fully extended.
  • Raise one leg up, bending and drawing it towards your abdomen while maintaining ground contact with your other leg and your upper back.
  • Grab the raised knee with both arms, pulling it closer to the abdomen, not allowing it to rotate outwards.
  • Maintain this position for the duration of the set, alternating legs in subsequent reps.

Snake Stretch

  • Begin by lying on the floor with your legs fully extended and arms just below shoulder level.
  • Push only your upper body up, fully extending your arms, and focusing on driving your back upwards.
  • Continue until just before you can no longer maintain contact with the ground with your upper thighs and the bottom of your hips.
  • Maintain this position for the duration of your set.

While it is common to experience some soreness for 24-48 hours after a vigorous workout, if DOMS symptoms extend beyond this time period, it is crucial to speak with your doctor.

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