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)

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is a common condition that affects individuals who engage in intense physical activities or exercise routines, characterized by muscle pain and stiffness typically occurring 24 to 72 hours post-activity. This soreness is a result of microscopic damage to muscle fibers during exercise, especially when the activity involves eccentric (lengthening) muscle contractions.

DOMS is often confused with acute muscle soreness, which is the pain that is felt during or immediately after exercise. However, DOMS is different because it tends to reach its peak intensity about one to three days after the activity and can last for up to a week.

It is essential to understand the difference between acute muscle soreness and DOMS to manage your condition effectively and prevent further complications.

What Causes Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness?

Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is a common condition experienced by individuals after engaging in strenuous physical activities. This phenomenon occurs due to several factors that are responsible for causing muscle soreness and discomfort.

One of the primary reasons behind DOMS is micro-damage to the muscle fibers. When the muscles are subjected to intense or unfamiliar exercises, the fibers experience microscopic tears. These tears trigger an inflammatory response in the body, leading to the sensation of pain and stiffness. 

Another factor contributing to DOMS is the accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles. During intense exercise, the body's energy demand exceeds the oxygen supply. This anaerobic energy production results in lactic acid buildup, which can cause muscle fatigue and soreness.

The lactic acid accumulation is more pronounced in activities that involve repetitive or eccentric contractions, such as downhill running or weightlifting. 

The disruption of the muscle cell membranes can also lead to DOMS. When the muscles are subjected to excessive stress, the cell membranes become damaged, allowing calcium ions to leak. This calcium leakage triggers various enzymes that break down proteins within the muscle cells, leading to inflammation and soreness. 

Symptoms of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

Several symptoms associated with DOMS can vary in intensity and may affect different muscle groups. One of the most prominent symptoms of DOMS is muscle stiffness. This is characterized by a decreased range of motion and difficulty performing certain movements.

The affected muscles may feel tight and tense, making engaging in activities requiring flexibility or mobility challenging. Individuals may experience a decrease in their overall performance due to this symptom. 

Another common symptom of DOMS is muscle tenderness. The affected muscles can become extremely sensitive to touch; even mild pressure can cause discomfort or pain. This tenderness is often described as a dull ache, and it can be exacerbated by movement or specific muscle contractions. Simple activities like walking or sitting down can become painful, challenging even the simplest tasks. 

Muscle swelling is also a prevalent symptom of DOMS. The affected muscles may appear slightly swollen or puffy, contributing to the overall discomfort and decreased mobility experienced by individuals.

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. Still, 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 effectively reduce stiffness and pain and promote healing is a relatively easy task. Keep reading for more tips on treating indicators of (D.O.M.s).

Best DOMS Treatment Tips

DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness, occurs some hours after a workout, unlike the pain 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 start 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:

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 are 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, reduce swelling, and help 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!


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The Original Sack hot and cold therapy pad

    Sacksy Thyme Cold therapy pad is perfect for delayed onset muscle soreness:

    The Sacksy Thyme cold therapy pad is designed to relieve delayed onset muscle soreness in specific areas of the body. Made of high-quality materials, it is durable and comfortable to use. Place it in the freezer for a few hours before use for targeted relief.

    Heat Therapy

    Heat therapy and cold therapy are completely different—but they're both beneficial. The 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 in 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 only be applied once the swelling has subsided, as it will worsen by increasing fluid retention while making muscles more rigid and less flexible.

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    Sacksy Thyme Hot therapy relief Heating pad is perfect for delayed onset muscle soreness:

    Introducing the Sacksy Thyme Heating Pad! This high-quality heating pad is specially designed to offer targeted heat therapy, effectively relieving pain and discomfort caused by DOMS. With its soft and gentle cover, it provides a comfortable fit around the affected area, ensuring maximum coverage and rapid relief.

    Alternating Hot & Cold

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

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    Double sided hot and cold therapy pad

      Sacksy Thyme Hot & Cold Therapy for delayed onset muscle soreness:

      The Sacksy Thyme Hot & Cold Therapy pad can help with DOMS. It provides both hot and cold therapy, which can aid in muscle soreness, stiffness, inflammation, and swelling.


      Massage Relief

      Massage therapy has been scientifically proven to have numerous benefits for the body. It can reduce stress levels, stimulate muscles, and enhance blood circulation. Regular massage sessions can help alleviate soreness caused by prolonged sitting or intense workouts, providing temporary pain relief.

      Moreover, massage therapy can improve your flexibility, which in turn can reduce the risk of injury while promoting overall physical well-being.

      Topical Pain Cream

      Topical analgesics (creams, lotions, gels) products temporarily alleviate pain symptoms. 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 and make moving around easier while healing.


      Stretching before or after a workout benefits your body in 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, you either need to switch directions or focus more on reducing DOMS (i.e., do fewer repetitions next time!).

      Cool Down After Exercise

      Proper cooling after a tough workout is as essential to recovery as warming up beforehand. Just like general exercise, 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, which 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. 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 various recipes for treating DOMS, but the best way to treat it is to get enough nutrients in your diet to help the body repair muscles and recover from fatigue. Experts recommend eating foods 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!

      Is DOMS Good for the Body?

      While DOMS may be perceived as uncomfortable and sometimes even debilitating, it is generally considered a normal and natural body response to exercise. Many fitness enthusiasts and athletes regard DOMS as a positive sign of an effective workout. 

      One of the benefits of experiencing DOMS is that it signifies muscle tissue breakdown. When we engage in strenuous exercise or engage muscles not accustomed to such intensity, microscopic damage occurs within the muscle fibers.

      This damage prompts the body to initiate a repair process involving inflammation, increased blood flow, and the release of various healing factors. As a result, the muscles adapt and become stronger over time. Therefore, DOMS can indicate that the body is adapting and becoming more resilient to future physical challenges. 

      Furthermore, DOMS can act as a valuable feedback mechanism. By causing discomfort and limiting the range of motion, it serves as a reminder to adjust our exercise regimen. It encourages us to gradually increase the intensity, allowing our muscles to adapt and prevent injury.

      How to prevent  Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

      While DOMS cannot be prevented entirely, several strategies can help minimize its severity and duration.

      One effective way to prevent DOMS is to increase the intensity and duration of your workouts gradually. Rapidly increasing the intensity or duration of your exercises can place excessive stress on your muscles, leading to more severe symptoms of DOMS. By gradually increasing the intensity over time, your muscles have the opportunity to adapt and strengthen, reducing the likelihood of experiencing severe muscle soreness.

      Another important aspect of preventing DOMS is to warm up properly before engaging in any physical activity. Warming up helps increase blood flow and oxygen to the muscles, preparing them for the upcoming exercise session. This can be done through dynamic stretching exercises, light cardio activities, or using a foam roller to massage the muscles. By adequately warming up, you can help reduce the risk of developing DOMS.

      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 and applying cold packs and massages to speed up recovery.

      Doing light stretches before returning to your normal routine for minor DOMS symptoms would be best. 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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