DOMS // what they are and how to deal with them
WHAT ARE THEY?
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is the pain and stiffness felt in muscles several hours or days (24-72 hours) after strenuous exercise.
When we stress our muscles more than usual, we are in effect traumatising them, and causing micro-tears to the fibres. This hurts, sometimes a lot. The muscles then heal and adapt to prevent damage and soreness if the same exercise is repeated. Unfortunately for those of us wanting to transform our bodies, increasing the intensity of exercise is essential for progression. Repeating the same exercise is just not going to cut it. Are DOMS unavoidable then? Not necessarily.
Soreness can be prevented or reduced by gradually increasing the intensity of an exercise programme. Compression clothing, such as sleeves during squats can help as they reduce the likelihood of muscle tears which contribute to DOMS.
If you do end up in pain, soreness usually disappears within 72 hours after appearing, however any treatment which increases blood flow to the area can help. This includes low-intensity activity, hot baths – Epsom salts are great – sauna or massage.
Self massage in the form of foam rolling can help to increase flexibility, function, performance and reduce injuries. By slow rolling over various muscles, you can help break up scar tissue and speed up healing and recovery after your workout. It is very effective on common areas of tightness such as your outer thighs (ITB), quads and upper back (as demonstrated by my glamorous assistant Libby).