DOMS stands for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. It is the pain or soreness that you experience a day or two after the workout. Here’s how you know you have it.

  • Your muscles would feel tender
  • You’d experience pain and/or stiffness in the body parts you exercised
  • You’d also have poor range of motion as a result of pain & stiffness

But, Why Does It Happen?

When exercising, your muscles work in eccentric (lengthening) and concentric (shortening) motions. This causes inflammation and microscopic damages. The “pain” you experience is a result of these occurrences. DOMS is common if you,

  • Are new to working out
  • Resumed workout after a break
  • Tried out a new exercise or
  • Increased the weight/intensity

This pain is a sign that the muscles are adapting to the workout regime, undergoing repair, recovery and are getting stronger and larger. There's no cause for concern. Rest assured your muscles are now well prepared for when you put it through the same stress again.

So DOMS is good for you right?

Not always. The pain you experience post workout can be due to three reasons.

  1. DOMS. By now you know exactly why this is happening.  
  2. Acute muscle soreness. This happens DURING your workout and in the muscles that you’re working then. This is normal and reduces after a few minutes or hours at max.
  3. Injury. If you’re injured, the discomfort and pain would be more focussed to a specific part and last a longer time. In such a scenario, consult a doctor immediately.  

Now back to DOMS.

“I have heard that your workout is effective only if you feel sore after. Is this true?”

False. As and when you progress, and your muscles adapt to the stimulus, you would have less or no soreness. The best way to gauge the effectiveness of the workout is through the progress you make.

A few questions you can ask yourself to understand progress better are:

  • Is the workout getting easier to perform?
  • Has your strength increased?
  • Has your endurance gotten better?
  • Have you lost weight/gained muscle?
  • Have you seen other changes in the body after performing the workouts consistently?

Four Ways To Prevent Doms

  • Take a slow & gradual approach. Increase the intensity or complexity of your workouts one step at a time.
  • Drink, drink, drink! Hydrate well and at regular intervals. Eating foods high in water content also helps.
  • Get enough Protein. Proteins contribute to muscle building and recovery. If you're not consuming enough protein, chances are that your body is sore due to lack of recovery.
  • Never skip your warm up and cool-down exercises. Go for exercises that improve your muscle’s range of motion before starting the workout. For cool down, perform static stretches focusing on the muscles targeted during the workout.

But for some of you it may be too late by the time you get here. If you and your T-Rex arms are wondering what to do, we have got you covered as well.

Fives Ways To Recover From DOMS

First things first, completely resting could only delay recovery or worsen the pain. Instead, do these:

  • Stretch your muscles. Stretching helps minimize soreness, increase flexibility, release tightness and improve range of motion. Be sure not to overdo this - it could further damage muscle fibres and lead to injuries.
  • Eat healthy. You may have heard this as a solution to every health problem, but it is true. Proteins in the right amount can help speed up recovery.
  • Stay active throughout the day. Increase blood flow with low-intensity exercises, walks and going about your daily activities. Blood carries nutrients and oxygen to different parts of the body. The sooner these reach the destination, the better you’ll feel.
  • Use a foam roller. Foam rollers have slight bumps in them which help in myofascial release. This means that they can help target areas where the muscle is tender and sore, release tension and reduce pain through pressure.
  • Hydrate! We can’t stress this enough. Dehydration can also cause muscle soreness. So ensure you drink water between your workouts and also during the day.
  • Get a massage. Similar to foam rolling and exercising, massages can also help target sore areas and improve blood circulation.

Now that you are well-prepared to deal with DOMS, go ahead and plan your next workout with!

Credits: Spoorthi, Fitness Expert,

Jul 17, 2021

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