What is Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS)?
DOMS stands for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, which is a type of muscle pain and stiffness that typically develops after engaging in physical activity, especially if the activity is new or more intense than usual.
DOMS usually occurs 24-72 hours after exercise, and the pain can last for several days. The exact cause of DOMS is not fully understood, but it is thought to be related to microscopic damage to muscle fibers and connective tissues during exercise, which triggers an inflammatory response and results in pain and stiffness.
DOMS is a normal and temporary response to exercise, and it usually resolves on its own within a few days. However, if the pain is severe or accompanied by other symptoms, such as swelling or reduced range of motion, it may indicate a more serious injury, and medical attention should be sought.
How to treat DOMS?
Here are some tips to help manage DOMS:
- Rest: Rest the affected muscles to give them time to heal and recover. Avoid engaging in any strenuous activities that may further damage the muscles.
- Ice: Applying ice packs to the affected area can help reduce inflammation and ease pain. Wrap the ice pack in a towel and apply it to the affected area for 15-20 minutes at a time, several times a day.
- Heat: Applying heat can also help reduce pain and stiffness. Use a warm towel or a heating pad for 15-20 minutes at a time.
- Massage: Gently massaging the affected area can help reduce pain and increase blood flow to the muscles, which can help speed up the healing process.
- Stretching: Gentle stretching exercises can help relieve muscle tension and stiffness. Be careful not to overstretch, as this can cause further damage.
- Hydration: Make sure to drink plenty of water to help flush out toxins and reduce inflammation in the affected area.
- Pain relief medication: Over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen, can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
- Hot baths: Soaking in a warm bath has been suggested to help ease muscle soreness and stiffness.
- Foam rolling: Using a foam roller to massage the affected muscles may help reduce muscle tension and soreness. Foam rolling is thought to increase blood flow to the muscles and break up any adhesions or knots that may be causing pain.
- Topical analgesics: Over-the-counter creams or gels containing pain-relieving ingredients such as menthol, camphor, or capsaicin may help alleviate muscle soreness and stiffness.
Should I go see a doctor?
Remember, DOMS is a natural part of the muscle-building process and usually resolves on its own within a few days. However, if you experience severe or prolonged pain, swelling, or bruising, it may be a sign of a more serious injury and you should seek medical attention.