Dealing with DOMS – Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness



It’s now the beginning of March and pre-season is in full swing.. well, for your teammates that is!

Your mates have been on your back all summer about getting out to a training, but in your mind, training doesn’t start until round 1 when the post-game beers are back.

You finally run out of weak excuses and make it out to your first training – much to your disgust! After lagging behind the pack all training, you regret those extra servings of Christmas pud and wish you’d gotten off the couch earlier.

The next day, you feel like a train wreck! Your legs are stiff, your butt aches and your whole body seems to hate you. Getting out of bed seems impossible and sitting on the toilet becomes a feat of it’s own.

You, my friend, are experiencing DOMS! (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness)

What is DOMS?

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is, as the name suggests, soreness of the muscles following vigorous or unaccustomed exercise. Mechanical stress from exercise can often cause micro-tears in your muscle fibres. In response, your body starts an inflammatory process which helps clean up and rebuild the damaged tissue. The micro-tearing and repairing of the muscle tissue is a normal process of the body and is essential in order to build muscular strength and size.

Why does it hurt?

As you would expect, this inflammatory process is great for muscle repair, however, it comes with some unpleasant side effects such as muscle soreness, tenderness and aching. The inflammatory response increases your nerves sensitivity to stimuli and is why your muscles are often sore to touch and feel painful during movement. Essentially, it’s your body’s way of protecting the tissue to allow it to repair and is not necessarily a sign of serious muscle injury.

What are the signs?

DOMS can occur with any exercise, particularly if you’re unaccustomed to training or are increasing your intensity. DOMS is commonly associated with stiffness, aching and swelling of the muscle, reduced range of motion, muscle fatigue and even temporary loss of muscle strength. Muscle soreness typically begins 12-24 hours after exercise and can last anywhere between 1 to 5 days after you exercise.

What can I do to recover?

The symptoms of DOMS generally ease after a few days, but there are a number of things you can do to help reduce your suffering;

1. Massage
2. Gentle movement and stretching
3. Drink plenty of water
4. Good nutrition
5. Hot/cold therapy

How can I prevent DOMS?

An appropriate warm up and cool down, before and after training, can help reduce the likelihood of DOMS. It’s recommended that you gradually build your training intensity slowly to avoid overloading your muscles too early – as they say, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’. Staying hydrated, particularly in warm conditions, and good nutrition are also essential to give your body what it needs to repair.

If you’re suffering from the unpleasant symptoms associated with DOMS, our team of Physiotherapists and Massage Therapists are here to help! You can call us on 8352 3582 to book an appointment.


Article Written by: Jordan Campbell (Physiotherapist)

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