You know the drill: You worked out hard yesterday and this morning you can’t climb the stairs or put on your shirt. Welcome to DOMS, delayed onset muscle soreness.
For some gym rats, it’s a badge of honor — “No Pain, No Gain.” For some people, it’s not so welcome. But one thing is for sure; if you work out, you will feel it.
What causes DOMS?
DOMS is a natural byproduct of intense exercise caused by micro trauma to the muscle fibers. These micro-tears cause inflammation, leading to muscle soreness.
Showing up 24 to 48 hours after an intense session, it’s especially common if you’re new to exercise, haven’t exercised lately or tried a new exercise.
How to prevent it
Drink coffee. A study in The Journal of Pain found that the caffeine in roughly two cups of coffee cut post-workout muscle pain by 48%.
Stay hydrated. A lack of electrolytes contributes to muscle soreness, so stay hydrated.
Exercise consistently. The more you work out, the more your muscles adapt to training. And don’t give your muscles too long to recover. That’s why workouts after a vacation leave you aching.
Roll out after working out. Studies show that self-myofascial release using a foam roller or massage gun after exercise helped decrease DOMS.
Drink tart cherry juice first. Tart cherries contain anthocyanins, antioxidant compounds that decrease excess inflammation.
How to treat it
Menthol instead of ice. A study in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy found applying menthol gel cut soreness by two-thirds. Use Tiger Balm for quick relief.
Eat protein. A critical nutrient for building and maintaining muscle, protein plays a huge role in helping muscles recover.
Exercise. Yes, you heard that right. Studies show that exercise is the most effective means of alleviating pain during DOMS. Reduce the intensity and duration for 1 to 2 days but get moving.
Contrary to popular thought, studies show that cryotherapy, stretching and electrical current treatment (TENS) showed little effect on alleviating DOMS.