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Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

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Updated May 05, 2010

Definition: DOMS is muscle soreness that is usually felt within 12-48 hours of exercise and often happens when you're first beginning a workout program or when you signficantly change your program. Experts believe we get sore because of microscopic tears in the muscle fibers. Some symptoms of DOMS include:
  • Stiff or tight muscles
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Muscle pain
It's normal to experience some soreness when you first start exercising, but you can reduce your chances of getting very sore by:
  • Warming up before your workouts.
  • Easing into your program and start with light exercise, allowing your body to build strength and endurance gradually.
  • Stretching after your workouts.
  • Make slow, gradual changes to your program.
If you do get sore, you can treat it with rest, hot baths, massage, anti-inflammatories (such as ibuprofen) and gentle stretching. You want to avoid strenuous exercise, but you may find that a light workout (such as walking or even a much lighter version of the workout that made you sore) may help as well.

Sources:

Hasson S, Barnes W, Hunter M and Williams J. Therapeutic effect of high speed voluntary muscle contractions on muscle soreness and muscle performance. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 1989;10(12):499-507.

Tiidus PM. Manual massage and recovery of muscle function following exercise: a literature review. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 1997 Feb;25(2):107-12.

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