Young man feeling Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) in shoulder at the gym

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS): What It Is and How to Manage It

Have you ever felt that deep muscle ache a day or two after an intense workout? That’s not just your muscles telling you they’ve been worked hard; it’s a phenomenon known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). In this article, we’ll delve into what DOMS is and provide some tips on how to manage and alleviate its symptoms.

What is DOMS?

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is a type of muscle pain that begins after you’ve engaged in physical activity, especially if it’s a new or more strenuous workout than you’re used to. Unlike the immediate pain or discomfort you might feel during exercise, DOMS typically starts a day or two post-workout[^1^]. This soreness can be a result of small-scale damage to the muscle fibers, often caused by eccentric (lengthening) exercises[^4^].

Why Does DOMS Occur?

DOMS is believed to be a result of microscopic damage to muscle fibers during exercise. This is especially prevalent when the exercise involves eccentric contractions, where the muscle lengthens as it contracts, such as in downhill running or slow weight lifting[^4^]. The pain isn’t from the damage itself, but from the inflammation that results as your body begins the repair process.

Sport Trauma. Young Arab Male Athlete Touching His Hurted Knee At Gym, Upset Middle Eastern Guy Sitting On Floor And Massaging Sore Injured Leg After Workout Training In Fitness Club, Free Space

Tips for Managing DOMS

  1. Active Recovery: Engaging in low-intensity exercises can help increase blood flow to the muscles and facilitate the healing process[^3^].
  2. Stretching: Gentle stretching can help alleviate some of the tightness and discomfort associated with DOMS.
  3. Hot or Cold Therapy: Applying heat can help relax and loosen tissues and stimulate blood flow to the area. On the other hand, applying cold can reduce inflammation and numb the sore area[^3^].
  4. Massage: A gentle massage can help reduce muscle stiffness and provide relief from DOMS symptoms.
  5. Over-the-counter Pain Medication: Non-prescription pain relievers like ibuprofen can help reduce pain and inflammation.
  6. Stay Hydrated: Drinking water post-exercise can help flush out toxins and facilitate muscle recovery.
  7. Rest and Recovery: Sometimes, the best remedy is to give your body time to heal. Ensure you’re getting adequate sleep and allowing your muscles to recover before engaging in another intense workout.


While DOMS can be uncomfortable, it’s a natural part of the muscle-building and strengthening process. It’s essential to listen to your body and give it the care it needs. By following the tips mentioned above, you can manage and reduce the symptoms of DOMS and get back to your fitness routine in no time.

Looking to start your fitness journey? Schedule a free coaching consultation with me today! —Matt

[^1^]: Healthline – Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS): Symptoms, Causes, Treatment
[^2^]: Verywell Fit – Understanding Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)
[^3^]: Right as Rain by UW Medicine – What Is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness?
[^4^]: Wikipedia – Delayed onset muscle soreness
[^5^]: Verywell Health – What Is Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)?


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