Really good article by Brandon Roberts over at Strengtheory explaining what DOMS is, what it’s not and if you can reduce / prevent it.
We’ve all experienced the agony. The pain of trying to get out of your car, wobble up the stairs, or move normally after a hard workout. This soreness is called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). If you’ve been exercising long enough, you’ve probably felt it. Some lifters relish this pain as an indicator of success, but is that really the case?
What is DOMS?
I frequently see DOMS occur after a daunting leg day. It can also occur in experienced lifters after taking a few weeks off. Studies show (1) that it’s not restricted to any particular muscle group, but some people tend to experience it more in certain muscles.
Technically speaking, DOMS is (primarily) caused by a type 1 muscle strain – some degree of fiber damage, but nothing too serious – predominantly as a result of unaccustomed exercise. As you may have experienced, DOMS can range from slight muscle discomfort to severe pain that limits range of motion. Generally, muscle soreness becomes noticeable ~8 hours post-workout and peaks 48-72 hours later, although the exact time course can vary.
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