Do you know what DOMS is? No doubt, most of you will have suffered from it. DOMS stands for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness and this usually results from over-exertion in sporting pursuits.

DOMS is the pain and stiffness felt in muscles after unaccustomed or strenuous exercise. It’s usually suggested that DOMS is caused by a lactic acid build-up when, in fact, it is the result of micro-traumas or tears to muscle fibres. These tiny traumas are caused by over-straining or lengthening the muscles and they cause the muscles to feel sore.

Most people feel DOMS 24 to 72 hours after exercise and in some cases they can take five to seven days to disappear. Your muscles will recover in time but here are six ways to help the process:

Keep moving: You might not feel like moving around when you have severe DOMS but it’s the first few steps that are the worst. Light movement, such as walking, swimming or yoga, can help to alleviate muscle pain. 

The movement helps to keep the blood flowing, which is important to eliminate metabolic waste from the inflamed muscles, and to bring healing nutrients to the damaged area. 

Another benefit of light movement is to aid myofascial release of the body’s soft tissues. 

Massage: Whether it’s a foam roller, muscle stick, Muscletrac or a sports masseur, massage will help with DOMS. You will need to work lightly over the affected muscles but, like light movement, this will help to increase blood flow as well as lymphatic drainage to speed up the removal of toxins.  

Ice it: Immersing yourself in cold or icy water, such as a river or bath, is claimed to prevent the worst of the DOMS. Many high- performance athletes swear by this method although some studies have found that while cold water might help to prevent muscle soreness it is not so good for alleviating DOMS once you have it. The immersion is best done immediately post-exercise to reduce the inflammatory process and onset of DOMS. 

Eat and drink well: Adequate hydration is important for keeping your body in good working order, so don’t skimp on the amount if water you drink when suffering with DOMS. It’s also claimed by some that a diet of natural foods will help to reduce muscle  inflammation. So avoid processed foods, refined carbohydrates and sugars, especially those in alcohol, and eat plant based foods, grass-fed meat and wild fish.

Rest, too: Many sporty people overlook the benefits of sleep. This is when your body has the chance to truly rest, recuperate and heal. If you feel sleepy during the day after hard exercise why not treat yourself to a nap? This is your body telling you that you need the extra shut-eye! 

Train smart: The best way to avoid the worst of DOMS is to be physically prepared for your chosen sport or exercise. Build up slowly and with commonsense so that you do not over-work your muscles and cause DOMS. While DOMS is not particularly dangerous it is uncomfortable and can stop you from exercise for up to a week.

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