You had a great workout, you felt great, and a day later you feel like you got hit by a truck. This reaction is referred to as delayed-onset muscle soreness, or DOMS.

In this article, we’ll answer all of your questions, including what causes DOMS, symptoms, and how to treat it.


What Causes Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness

DOMS occurs 12-24 hours after your workout and peaks up to 72 hours after. This should not be confused with acute muscle soreness which occurs immediately after a workout.

When you have a high-intensity workout, it can cause microscopic tears in the muscle fibers. When that happens, your body increases inflammation in that area, potentially leading to DOMS.

People once believed that DOMS was closely related to the buildup of lactic acid in the body, but this is a debunked myth. Acute muscle soreness, however, is directly linked to lactic acid.

DOMS can affect everyone from beginners to elite athletes, especially if you’re coming back to working out after some time off. 


Symptoms of DOMS

If you start feeling unusually sore for a day or two after your work out, look for these symptoms:

  • Muscles that are tender to the touch
  • Pain and stiffness when moving
  • A reduced range of motion
  • Muscle swelling
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Short-term muscle weakness


Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness Relief

There are a few different ways that are proven to treat DOMS and reduce soreness.

Warm or cold baths

One study showed that a 10-15 minute cold bath can lessen the muscle pain associated with DOMS. But if you don’t feel that you can tolerate the cold temperature, a warm bath or heat wraps can help as well. For double the benefits, try a combination of both: a warm bath followed by cold compresses

Anti-inflammatory foods

Diet is a huge part of exercise and maintaining muscle tissue. Foods such as these can help with reducing inflammation due to heavy workouts.

Topical analgesics

Menthol-based topical analgesics may help with pain relief from muscle damage much more than NSAIDs, which don’t seem to have any effect. When applied directly to the affected muscles, it can help to ease the soreness.

Massage Therapy

If you receive a post-workout massage within 48 hours, it can significantly reduce sore muscles. It’s not always feasible to schedule a massage after every workout, but adding regular sessions to your maintenance routine adds to the prevention of DOMS. In between sessions, use a foam roller for quick relief.


Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness Treatment with MG Sports Massage

MG Sports Massage is here to help with your DOMS and general muscle soreness. We’ll work with you to create a routine that fits your schedule and your budget while letting you perform at your best.

Schedule your first sports massage therapy session today!