There is an old saying, “No pain, no gain.” This is especially true in the gym. If you want to grow your muscles, you need to be prepared to deal with delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). This refers to the way that your muscles will ache after an intense workout session. Usually, this pain will only begin to surface a few days after you have hit the gym.
The good news is that this isn’t going to be an intense pain. It will just be a dull thudding. While unpleasant, it just serves as a sign that your muscles need to take some time to recover. Let’s dig deeper into DOMS and some tips you can use to manage the soreness.
Why Do We Experience DOMS?
What is happening to cause this pain? Well, that all comes down to how our muscles grow. During the workout, you need to apply pressure to your muscles. You are trying to apply stress to your muscles. Pushing yourself just beyond your limits. Your body takes this as a sign that your muscles need to be rebuilt stronger, able to better handle future stress.
The downside to this process is that the stress on your muscles causes a microscopic tear. Don’t worry. This is a normal part of the process. To repair the damage, your body dispatches enzymes. The repair process will last for a few days, during which you will feel the soreness of DOMS.
It should be noted that DOMS is different from another type of exercise-related pain, lactic acid build-up. Lactic acid build-up occurs during your workout, feeling like a cramp. It’s a sign that you have worked your muscles to failure. DOMS, though, only emerges 12 to 24 hours after you have finished your workout.
What Does DOMS Feel Like?
DOMS often takes a while to set in. You can expect to start feeling sore within 12 to 24 hours after you finished your workout. Usually, you can expect the soreness to last for one to two days. By the end of the third day, it should have peaked and will start to fade away. Though, the more intense your training session was, the longer the soreness will stick around.
Just one word of warning. Make sure that you aren’t confusing the symptoms of DOMS with a more serious injury. DOMS will fade away within three days. While your muscles might be sore, you shouldn’t have a restricted range of motion. It is also a dull pain, rather than a sharp stabbing one. If you aren’t sure about the type of pain you are experiencing, and it hasn’t gone away within a few days, you should consider seeing a doctor.
Can DOMS Be Eliminated?
Bad news. It’s impossible to complete DOMS. Think of it this way, the soreness tells you that you have an effective gym routine. You pushed your muscles hard, forcing them to be rebuilt stronger.
DOMS also plays an important role within your body. It’s a warning sign. The soreness is your cue to avoid working out that muscle group. Ignoring the warning might cause you to push your muscles too far, leading to muscle strains. Unlike DOMS, a muscle strain won’t go away within a few days. Expect to wait three to six weeks for it to heal. In severe cases, you might even need to go to the hospital.
How Can You Manage DOMS?
While you can’t get rid of DOMS, there are a few things that you can do to limit how sore you feel, some of the ideas to explore include:
Warm Up Properly
The best way to protect yourself is by conducting a proper warm-up. Ideally, this should last for around 10 minutes. Though for an intense workout, you might want to have a longer warm-up. This gets your muscles ready to perform vigorous exercise. There are plenty of warm-up exercises that you can try, including
- Light jog
It’s also a good idea to do some warm-down exercises. This helps your body start the recovery process and reduces the chances that you will be saddled with an injury.
Don’t Use A Painkiller
When you’re feeling stiff and sore, it can be tempting to reach for an over-the-counter painkiller. But this can be a mistake, particularly if you want to build muscle mass. Studies have shown that anti-inflammatory painkillers might limit your progress in the gym. It’s best to stick to natural remedies.
Consider Your Diet
A balanced diet is essential to get the most out of your workout. In particular, you should be focusing on the amount of protein that you are getting. This nutrient is key. It’s the building block that allows your body to grow new muscle. There are plenty of foods that are high in protein, these include:
- Lean meats
- Dairy products
- Protein shakes or bars
There are a few other foods that can help you deal with the soreness of DOMS. For example, many people report that drinking coffee helps them recover after a workout. It’s a good idea to chat with a sports nutritionist. They can help you come up with a meal plan that gives your body the nutrients it needs to grow muscle while limiting your fat intake. Furthermore, consider taking some supplements. We’ll discuss some of the benefits that they can provide a little later.
Try An Ice Bath Or Heat Therapy
An ice bath is one of the most effective ways to ease the soreness of a vigorous workout. It will help you relax and reduce inflammation. If you want additional relief, add some Epsom salts to the bath. They contain magnesium, which lowers muscle tension. Many professional athletes swear by this approach.
Good news. You don’t need to stay in the ice bath for long. Just 10 to 15 minutes will be enough. Wait any longer and you are risking hypothermia. Aim to take the ice bath within 24 hours of your workout. Once you are finished, dry yourself and get warm.
But if shivering in a tub filled with ice cubes isn’t for you, there is an alternative. Turn to heat therapy instead. Pop a heat pack in the microwave for a few minutes. Then, apply it to the sore muscles. The heat will improve your circulation and should help you relieve the soreness.
Why not have a mix of the two? Start with an ice bath, shortly after the workout. Limit the inflammation. From there, you can switch to a heat pack to manage any lingering soreness. Manage the soreness.
Get A Sports Massage
A massage can be a great way to ease the soreness of a vigorous massage. Ease muscle tension. The masseuse will hit the pressure points to help improve blood flow to the area. This will speed up the healing process. Blood moves nutrients to the muscles to help them heal.
If you don’t want to head out for a massage, that’s fine. Get a massage gun instead. Apply the tool to the areas that are feeling tense. Pull the trigger. Between 15 seconds to 2 minutes per muscle. You can do this two to three times per day.
Another option is to use a foam roller. Again, the goal is to improve the circulation to the affected muscles and ease the soreness. Rolling can also be a good way of limbering up before a workout.
Try Compression Gear
You can use some compression gear or apply some kinaesthetic tape. Get relief during the day. It should help you boost the circulation to the affected muscles and control the amount of inflammation that you are feeling. Plus, you can wear compression gear under your clothes during the day.
Drink Plenty Of Water
Food isn’t the only thing that you need to consider. It’s also vital to make sure that you stay hydrated. Water will help protein synthesis, allowing you to speed up the recovery process. The amount of water needed varies slightly, depending on your gender. Men need at least 15.5 cups. Women require at least 11.5 cups.
Get The Right Amount Of Sleep
In this busy world, it can be easy to overlook the important role that sleep plays in our lives. A good night’s sleep helps your body recover from intense physical activity. Adults need at least eight hours of sleep per night. Monitor how much shut-eye you are getting with a sleep journal or sports watch.
Cardio Can Help You Repair The Damage
A cardio session can be a great way to help your muscles recover from the strain you put them under. Keep the cardio light, though. A mild jog on the treadmill is ideal. The aim is to raise your heartbeat without overtaxing yourself. Doing this will help you get the blood flowing around your body. Enhanced blood flow will help the nutrients get carried to your muscles, making it easier for your body to repair the damaged muscle.
Try Some Essential Oils
Some people swear by essential oils. However, there isn’t much scientific proof to show their effectiveness. Still, it might be worth giving it a go and seeing if they work for you. The best essential oils for muscle soreness are; eucalyptus, juniper, peppermint, and frankincense.
Apply a small amount to your muscles. Some essential oils can be concentrated and powerful. Dilute them before applying them to your skin. If this is your first time, apply a small amount to your skin, ensuring you won’t have an allergic reaction.
Don’t Push Yourself Too Hard
This is a common mistake, particularly among people who starting their fitness journey. It can be tempting to want to throw yourself into the new routine. More time sweating means more muscle gained, right? No. There is a real risk that you will overdo it, leaving you nursing a painful muscle strain for a few weeks. Give your body some time to adjust to your new routine. Allow a few weeks to settle in, gradually getting to know your limits.
At the start of a new routine, it’s a good idea to chat with a professional trainer. Check that you’re performing the exercises properly. Plus, you can get their help to design the routine. Getting the most out of your gym time.
Change Your Workout Structure
Consider how you are going to manage your workout routine. Focus on targeting one muscle group per session. By doing this, you can allow each muscle group to recover before you target it again.
It’s also a good idea to give yourself a rest day. The whole body will get a chance to recover. It can help to talk to a professional trainer. They can help you come up with a strategy to help you achieve your goals, without risking overtaxing your body.
Supplements Can Help You Boost Your Recovery
Muscle supplements also have an important role to play. High-quality supplements will boost your energy levels, allowing you to push yourself harder in the gym. Plus, they can help you grow your muscle mass. Even better, they help you boost blood flow. Nutrients can get to your muscles faster. Enyzymes find it easier to repair muscle damage.
Remember, not all supplements are created equal. It can be easy to get swept up in the world of illegal steroids, seduced by the impressive gains that they promise. But these can devastate your health in the long term. Not only will you have to contend with side effects like baldness and man boobs, but you might also get liver damage. Stick to reputable brands like Crazy Mass. All our products are made in FDA-approved labs and extensively tested for their safety and efficiency. Featuring natural ingredients, our supplements won’t cause any problems for your bodybuilding career.
DOMS is uncomfortable. No one wants to walk around feeling sore after an intense workout. Unfortunately, it’s unavoidable. If you want to grow your muscle mass and get the body of your dreams, you’ll have to put up with a little discomfort. The good news is that there are plenty of things you can do to reduce the amount of soreness that you experience.
Gary David is the founder and CEO of CrazyMass, one of the nation’s leading supplement companies. Before starting CrazyMass in 2006, Gary was a bodybuilder and personal trainer for several gyms throughout Northwest Michigan, helping clients meet their fitness goals. Gary happily worked in this profession for over 15 years. He saw that most weight gaining products to increase muscle were made with ingredients that were dangerous or of poor quality. He knew there was a safer and healthier way to do this, so he created a special blend of herbs, amino acids, and nutrients to help bodybuilders slim down and gain muscle.
Although Gary no longer participates in bodybuilding competitions, he continues to be involved in the community, helping others prep for shows and attending events where he can advertise CrazyMass products. When Gary isn’t working long hours, he likes to spend his time working out at the gym, boating on Lake Michigan, traveling the trails around Northern Michigan by four-wheeler, and spending time with his family. He also loves to take a yearly trip to Europe with his wife and children.