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What are DOMS?

Delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is muscle pain that begins after you’ve worked out.

It normally starts a day or two after a workout and can last for around 48-72hrs. For those of you who have recently joined us at Get Fit Today, you will probably know exactly what we are talking about…

Does this sound familiar - You wake up the day after your first Get Fit Today session and go to get out of bed, but just when you need them, your legs don’t move….. After an interesting 10 minutes trying to get washed and ready for work feeling like your legs have turned into lead weights, you then encounter the ‘stairs of doom!’ - will you ever be able to go downstairs again…?

It’s gets better though - honest!

Why do we get DOMS?

It seems unfair that pain is the reward for putting ourselves through a hardcore workout. But in fact, DOMS can be a sign that you did something right during your session - "The whole idea of resistance training is that you're creating micro-tears in your muscles, so that they recover stronger and firmer" says osteopath Leah Hearle, who treats sports injuries in top athletes, "the soreness you're experiencing shows your fitness is progressing."

DOMS are quite often experienced by people starting out in fitness for the first time after a long break due to the sudden Impact of working out and putting the body under stress it isn’t used to. However, certain exercises can also cause DOMS too…..

Imagine doing a press-up!

You start at the top of the press-up position and then slowly, very slowly, lower yourself to the floor.

Take as long as you can possibly take to complete this part of the exercise and then push up back to the start again. The muscles you are using to lower your body slowly to the floor are being held under tension at the same time as being lengthened. It is this type of exercise (called ”eccentric’ exercises which tend to result in DOMS.

So next time you are in the park and the instructor says you will be doing slow press-ups, or slow squats - you know what to expect! 😀

Whats the treatment for DOMS?

Generally speaking, the best thing you can do if you are experiencing DOMS is to stay active. Keep moving and stretch as often as you can (holding each stretch for 20-30 seconds). The longer you sit in one position, the more you are likely to ache when you stand up.

One solution is quick and easy won't cost you much: pour a cup of Epsom salts in a warm bath. Epsom salts are rich in magnesium, a magic mineral that helps widen your blood vessels to boost your recovery, and soak soreness from your muscles. You can also buy special magnesium salts, but they're three times the price for basically the same thing. Search for Epsom salts in your pharmacy, next to the indigestion remedies – they're also used to treat bloating.

Or, if you're feeling seriously brave (that's code for "desperate"), sit in a cold bath for as long as you can grit your teeth.

Many professional athletes swear by ice baths because the cold helps combat the muscular micro-tears from intense exercise

One other option is to alternate between a hot bath and a cold shower every minute for ten minutes. Or you can use a hot water bottle and ice pack if the aches are localised to one muscle group maybe.

“No gain without pain”

I’m sure this is something you have heard - sadly, it’s not actually true. Albeit, DOMS is your body’s way of telling you that you have worked out hard and are now recovering, healing and growing stronger - you dont actually have to ache after a workout!

How to avoid DOMS

It is possible to reduce the effects of DOMS or avoid them completely. Firstly, you could avoid exercise completely (but we know you wouldn’t want to do that would you 😀)

Or you can try to stay hydrated throughout the day prior to exercising and make sure that you warm up properly, slowly and steadily. A Get Fit Today warm up will do this for you as long as you follow the trainers instructions.

Finally, don’t get carried away. As you start to get into fitness, and the aches feel less and less, the temptation is to increase what you are doing. This is the right thing to do but take it slowly. Don’t go from 1 session a week to 5 or if you’re running, only increase your distances by about 10% (in total) each week.

The biggest mistake people make in fitness is to jump ahead and do too much too soon. This inevitably leads to injury which means you cant train for 6-8 weeks at least and when you do, you’re right back at square 1.

So, in summary - don’t think of DOMS as a bad thing. It’s your body’s way of saying “thank you for taking me out for some exercise”…. 😀.

See you in the park soon.

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