How to deal with DOMs (Delayed Onset Muscle soreness)


(Pull-ups always give me DOMs!)

You know that feeling that sets in a day or two after you've engaged in a particularly strenuous or new workout session? Your muscles burn, you feel week, and going downstairs makes you want to cry. You, my friend, have a case of the DOMs, or delayed onset muscle soreness.

DOMs is different from "regular" soreness you may experience when adding in extra reps or lifting heavier weights. For one, it sets in later than regular soreness- like, perhaps, on day two after the workout, or after a solid night's sleep. And secondly, it's usually more intense than your average "I just worked out" soreness.

There's one exercise in my personal training arsenal that often leads to DOMs, especially after a client's first time performing them: (everyone's favorite) Bulgarian Split Squats. If you've never split-squatted like a Bulgarian, you will almost always have some DOMs after doing so the first time. Going downstairs is particularly challenging a day or two after doing a few sets of these guys because of the engagement of the quad that's needed to descend the stairs (in other words: OW).

So, what can you do to relieve the pain when you've got a case of the DOMs? Here are a few of my tried-and-true panaceas when your muscles are crying:

1) Keep the body warm/moving. When you move around, blood flow is increased, which not only warms up the body, providing relief from pain, but also brings oxygen to the muscles so that they may heal more quickly. This is especially important for those who tend to sit a lot during the day: if you've got DOMs and a desk job, make sure you get up and move around for 7-10 minutes every hour.

2) Stretch (lightly). Aside from a personal trainer, I am also a certified yoga instructor, so my tendency is to want to "stretch everything out" whenever I'm feeling sore. But, stretching too deeply when you've got DOMs is akin to willingly placing your hand on a hot stove. It's too painful!! So, by all mean, do some yoga, do some stretching, but be gentle with yourself. Your range of motion when you have DOMs is often limited, so don't expect to be your most flexible during this time.

3) Bath/Hot tub. Ahhhh... few things are better than soothing hot water for sore muscles. Take a bath or hop in a hot tub for 10-20 minutes. Just make sure to drink lots of water to replace what you sweat out though, as dehydration only makes DOMs worse. This leads us to #4...

4) Hydrate. You know, you know...hydration is super important, la ti da. But, it is particularly important when you've got DOMs. Muscles need water to repair, so drink up, buttercup!

5) Anti-inflammatories. I try not to take anti-inflammatories very often unless I really truly need to, and sometimes, when DOMs is bad enough and nothing else is working, I'll take a couple of ibuprofen to squash the pain. Though they do not "heal" the muscles, they do (for me) help reduce pain when nothing else is working. You can also try natural anti-infammatory foods like watermelon, turmeric, ginger, blueberries, and fatty fish (salmon, tuna) to name just a few.

Do you have any tried and true methods for relieving DOMs? If so, drop me a quick note & tell me what works for you!

In good health,

-JAB

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