Why do muscles ache after a workout? (DOMS)

After exercising it is common to feel some soreness or stiffness in your muscles. This is often delayed and noticed a day or two later. This is known as Delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS. This type of muscle soreness can affect anyone, regardless of their fitness level.
There is, however, nothing to worry about with this sort of soreness or stiffness. It won’t last long and is actually a sign of your improving fitness.

Why does DOMS happen?

Delayed onset muscle soreness can occur when starting a new exercise routine, change your routine, or increase the intensity of your routine.
When muscles are required to work harder than they are used to, or in a different way, they develop microscopic tears in the fibres. It is these tears that cause the soreness and stiffness.
DOMS is often believed to be caused by a build-up of lactic acid, although this is a mistake as lactic acid is not involved in this process.

Who could be affected by DOMS?

Anyone, including elite athletes, can be affected by DOMS. Those who are new to exercise could easily be put off early on by the experience of Delayed onset muscle soreness. The soreness will, however, decrease as the muscles become accustomed to the new demands being placed upon them. It is therefore important not to worry too much in the early stages. The soreness is part of the adaptation process that muscles go through in order to build strength and stamina.

What types of exercise cause DOMS?

Any movement that puts your muscles through new stress can cause Delayed onset muscle soreness. This includes taking up new exercises and increasing the intensity of your current ones.

Is it preventable?

DOMS can be prevented by starting any new exercise routines gradually and gently. This will allow the muscles to get used to the new movements without putting too much strain on them. Allowing the muscle time to adapt to new movements will minimise soreness.
There is currently no evidence that stretching, either pre or post-workout, has any effect on DOMS. However, stretching will reduce the likelihood of other injuries. The same is true for warming-up, there is little evidence that it will reduce DOMS, but it will lower the chance of really hurting yourself.


For more information on DOMS visit: https://www.thebodycoach.com/blog/everything-you-need-to-know-about-doms-139.html


Less than average – How do your muscles grow?

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