A Guide to the treatment of delayed onset muscle soreness (D.O.M.S)

A Guide to the treatment of delayed onset muscle soreness (D.O.M.S)

DOMS can be a drag, but you don’t have to go through the experience alone. There are several treatments that can soothe your pain and encourage muscle recovery, so that you continue exercising and achieve your fitness goals. While DOMS may often be associated with elite athletes, there is no need to think that you have to be one to experience this painful condition. DOMS typically starts 12 to 24 hours after a workout, but it can begin as soon as 30 minutes after. It usually peaks somewhere between one and three days after, but it varies from person to person depending on a few factors like: the amount of exertion used during the workout, age, gender or even individual physiology!

There are several DOMS treatments available that can diminish inflammation caused by muscle pain, allowing you to continue exercising. Although the exact reasons for it remain unknown, most people now agree that delayed-onset muscle soreness, commonly known as “DOMS”, is a typical response to an overly-strenuous workout. Recognizing the symptoms of DOMS and knowing which DOMS treatments will not only effectively reduce stiffness and pain, but also promote healing, isn’t that difficult of a task. Keep reading for more tips on treating indicators of (DOMs).

Best DOMS Treatment Tips

DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness, occurs some hours after a workout, unlike the pain that you may feel when you warm up. It happens due to overexertion of a particular body part or muscle group. This kind of pain could happen if you're just starting out and proceed with different workouts, which train your muscles to work harder than last time. Some of our best DOMS treatment tips should get you on track for better workout recovery. The following are our best treatment methods for DOMS:

Massage Relief

Massage is proven to reduce stress, stimulate muscles and boost circulation, which allows the body to feel more limber, as it provides temporary pain relief. Massage can relieve soreness caused by sitting all day or overused muscles associated with intense workouts. Improving your flexibility will reduce injury cases, while improving your physical wellbeing.

Hot & Cold Therapy

Hot and cold therapy can be exactly what the doctor ordered for certain injuries. Whether it’s to temporarily relieve pain, reduce swelling, or aid in healing—this versatile treatment is always beneficial. The following information should give you a better idea of when hot and cold therapy is the right choice based on injury type.

Cold Therapy

So you've done a tough workout and you're feeling sore the next day? Look no further than cold therapy, also known as cryotherapy, because this is your best bet for recovery! When Cold packs are applied to sore muscles and tissues, it numbs the pain, reduces swelling, and helps you feel better quicker. Taking an ice bath for any muscle pains that arise following strenuous workouts will make you feel like a million dollars in no time flat! This nifty little tip comes from professional athletes themselves, who swear by its effectiveness!

Heat Therapy

Heat therapy and cold therapy are completely different—but they’re both beneficial. Heat helps ease muscle pain, swelling, stiffness and soreness. It’s also perfect for treating DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). Before you use heat therapy – make sure you know its limitations. Heat therapies can cause intense swelling on bruised areas, which could lead to serious complications if left untreated.

Heat is an effective treatment for muscle recovery, and there are a few ways to reap the benefits of heat without spending money. A simple herbal heating pad or warm towel stays in place and offers warmth, but because they were designed to be portable, they can easily be moved around your body as needed.

Heat should not be applied until swelling has subsided, as it will worsen by increasing fluid retention, while making muscles more rigid and less flexible.

Alternating Hot & Cold

Heat and cold are both excellent remedies for pain, but sometimes you just can't have it all at once. Alternating hot and cold is one way to gain the benefits of their analgesic qualities, while also reducing inflammation and increasing blood flow. This will decrease pain overall!

Topical Pain Cream

Topical analgesics are topical (creams, lotions, gels) products that temporarily alleviate the symptoms of pain. The pain cream is applied to the skin and can ease the pain with a cooling or warming sensation. While these products won't completely solve DOMS, they can reduce the symptoms to make it easier to move around while you heal.


Stretching before or after a workout is beneficial for your body in so many ways. It warms the muscles up and prepares them for what you're about to do, but it also speeds up recovery time and reduces the chances of getting injured.

Make sure you are extra careful when stretching, because doing too much can increase the risk of something else, like an injury, which may keep you out even longer! If a particular muscle group is tense, focus on loosening it as much as possible by gently moving through the right movement at a slow pace. If you encounter any pain, that means either you need to switch directions or simply focus more on reducing DOMS (i.e. just do less repetitions next time!).

Cool Down After Exercise

Performing a proper cool down after a tough workout is as essential to recovery as warming up beforehand. Just like exercising in general, post-workout stretching helps with flexibility and body health. Take a walk to help lower your heart rate, then complete some stretches to target the muscles you just used. Aim for quick movements focused on specific muscle groups for two minutes each.

Pace Yourself

One of the best ways to treat DOMS is to prevent it from happening in the first place. An occasional strenuous exercise can feel great, but you should pace yourself when trying something new. After all, if your body's not used to a certain amount of endurance, you will likely build up and cause injury for yourself through over-exercising. Before your workout, warm-up with an active stretch or brisk walk, as that will help get your blood pumping and ready for exercising!

Get Moving on a Rest Day

Muscles in pain make you want to take a rest day, but remaining sedentary will only increase stiffness. In the morning, when you wake up from your sleep, do not immediately start exercising. Walking is one of the best ways to get your muscles working again. If possible, try stretching exercises, maintaining gentle movements for your body. This method will help relieve pain and discomfort, increase blood flow to painful areas, and aid healing.

Adequate Diet

People have come up with all sorts of recipes for treating DOMS, but the best way to treat it is to get enough nutrients in your diet that will help the body repair muscles and recover from fatigue. Experts recommend eating various foods containing things like potassium, calcium, protein, and carbohydrates. When treating DOMS, it’s important to remember that a diet rich in healthy foods with ingredients like vitamins and minerals helps the body repair muscles faster than any other “treatments” from overusing them!

Reduce Your DOMS

DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness is a type of body ache that occurs 24 to 72 or more hours after an intense workout. The main thing that causes DOMS is the eccentric part of the exercise, specifically during high-strength contractions, where the muscle lengthens under load and produces microscopic tears in muscle fibers. What makes it so painful is how your body responds by sending extra fluids to the affected area to speed up repair and recovery. If you are experiencing intense DOMS, consider getting some rest, applying cold packs and massage to speed up the recovery process.

For minor DOMS symptoms, it's recommended you do light stretches before you get back into your normal routine. If any of this sounds familiar, you should talk to a physical therapist, so they can assess your condition and provide tips on how to alleviate pain, such as taking ibuprofen or doing gentle stretches if necessary!
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