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DOMS. Why am I so sore!

Couple of weeks ago, we had a blog post discussing soreness versus injury. Today we will be shedding a little light on delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Everyone would be familiar with this – whether it be the weekend warrior, the professional footballer, the dancer, the fitness enthusiast or the individual who decides to take a walk rather than the usual drive to the shops. Love it or hate it, DOMS are here to stay.
 
The hallmark of DOMS is its delay. Muscles become sore to touch and moving and stretching becomes difficult (if the DOMS are in your legs, getting up from the toilet becomes an arduous task!). This normally starts 24 hours after you have completed you exercise and may follow a pain free window. Sadly, this is when the fun starts. The symptoms peak within 72 hours and can take up to a week to resolve. DOMS is most common following unaccustomed exercise (consider the intensity, duration and type of the last exercise session preceding your DOMS). The stronger you get, the less intense your DOMS for that activity.
 
The truth is that there is still some debate on this topic. It is thought that micro damage and inflammation are the key players in this. However, studies have shown it is possible to get DOMS without evidence of tissue damage. They have indication electrolytes and enzymes efflux within the muscle tissue to be the main cause. The accumulation of lactic acid being source of soreness has been discredited. Lactic acid is the ‘burn’ you get while exercising. Its levels normalize within an hour after exercise. However, it may have a role in initiating the process of DOMS.
 
DOMS at day 2 and 3 feel horrible. Massage, stretching, exercise (yes! Persisting with exercise) and anti-inflammatory drugs will reduce your suffering but it will need to run its course. Remember that your muscles are slightly weaker in its DOMS state, and intense exercise can risk sprains and strains to the area or adjacent areas.


Final point, there are differential diagnoses to consider (eg. Stress reactions, muscle tears, tendinopathies etc). If your symptoms are not starting to subside following the 3rd day, contact the team at Ascend.