If you’ve ever walked out of a workout feeling great, only to feel muscle pain two to three days later, you’ve experienced DOMS, also known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. Sometimes called “muscle fever,” deep muscle soreness can surge up to 4 days after an unfamiliar intense workout. In continuation of our fitness vocabulary list, here is a little more detail about big pain.
Most often peaking two days after a workout, the muscle pain and weakness that you feel is most often triggered by a lot of eccentric contractions. An example of this is quadriceps while descending. Although DOMS is much weaker following the next workout, the pain can be so intense that people actually start avoiding certain exercises or workouts. Avoiding workouts completely isn’t the solution, yet because medical science can’t fully explain DOMS, there isn’t an actual cure. Athletes that get DOMS frequently swear that massages help as well as ibuprofen, however drugs and massaging the areas only take the edge off – they don’t handle the problem complete. Some evidence suggests that inflammation itself can help reduce DOMS pain so continuing to exercise can actually help.
DOMS: Why is the pain delayed?
This variability of DOMS pain is most often due to two things: the complex biology of DOMS itself and the complications due to other types of pain. For example, if a muscle is already inflamed it may obscure or accelerate the timing of it. DOMS is accentuated by doing exercises you aren’t used to. So if you train harder than usual and your muscles have gotten familiar to certain stresses, anything beyond their typical stressors can lead to inflammation and accelerated pain. But isn’t the point of exercise to train harder to better? Yes! Which is probably why you’re wondering how far outside of your typical exercise zone will DOMS strike? There really is no way of determining that because there are so many factors involved. However a few things that can lead to DOMS are:
-Lots of eccentric contractions
-Stresses such as dehydration
If you experience DOMS frequently (more than once a week), keep track of what triggers it to help rule out other issues that could be much more severe.
Some scientists believe DOMS to be a slower, longer-lasting chemical reaction to the “after burn” of intense exercise. (LINK TO EPOC ARTICLE). Essentially, DOMS could be “rhabdomyolysis,” a mild form of metabolic poisoning. Although true “rhabdo” is a medical emergency due to the kidneys poisoned by myoglobin. So, nowhere close, but somewhat similar.
The good news is, DOMS doesn’t last more than a short time. And, because most individuals don’t work out intensely at every workout, the chance of getting DOMS is slim – maybe once a month at best. It happens more often to professional athletes and because they are used to it, the pain doesn’t put keep them out of the gym long.
So next time you’re feeling muscle pain several days after an intense workout, rest assured that Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness is taking place and don’t be alarmed. It happens to almost everyone, yet goes away after a few days. Just stay hydrated and eat bananas to help with the muscle cramping, and change up your exercise routine – the DOMS will pass.