What Is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)? – The Ultimate Guide

Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is the pain you feel a few days after exercising with an intensity your body isn’t used to. In this article, you will learn everything about it.

I spent a whole day researching through many studies and research papers so I could give you the best and most accurate explanation and advice on this matter.

Here is what you will learn in this article:

What Is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)?
Is It Possible To Prevent DOMS?
How To Treat DOMS?
What To Do Next

Keep reading to learn all about DOMS.

What Is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)?

Delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is the pain you feel 1-2 days after exercising. It’s most common when a person just started going to the gym because the body isn’t used yet to that type of exercise. But it can also happen to anyone who increases the intensity of the workout. In the end, it’s the way the body responds to a workload that it isn’t used to yet.

Experts believe that the pain we feel is caused by small tears in our muscles fibers caused by high-intensity exercise. DOMS is considered normal and a sign that our muscles are getting used to that harder workload and are going through hypertrophy (recovering and getting bigger). [1]

Is It Possible To Prevent DOMS?

Generally, there is no way you can prevent DOMS if you are going to perform exercises with an intensity that your body isn’t used to. But there are some things you can do to reduce the potential pain you will feel on the days after the workout.

Always Warm Up

It’s always important to warm up before exercising because that is the way to prepare your body for the workout you are going to do. You will have a reduced chance of getting serious injuries on your muscles and tendons, avoiding unnecessary pain after the workout. [2]

Increase The Workload Gradually

You probably want to build bigger muscles as soon as possible. However, keep in mind that increasing unreasonably the workload of your workout will most likely do more harm than good. You may not even be capable of exercising for many days because of the pain.

So, we recommend that you listen to your body and increase the intensity of your workout in small increments. You will not only reduce the risk of getting injured but you will also build those big muscles faster because you won’t have to take as many days off because of the pain.

Hire A Personal Trainer

If you work out regularly or plan to, you should consider hiring a personal trainer. I recommend it because everyone who works out can benefit from having a person there to tell them if they are doing the right move or if they should improve their posture.

A personal trainer helping a man working out

Ultimately, this highly decreases your chance of getting injured and experience unnecessary pain. He/she will also tell you the right workload for your workout and will guide you on how to increase it correctly.

How To Treat DOMS?

There isn’t a direct way of treating DOMS, and usually, there is no need to. The pain caused by DOMS will most likely go away in a few days if you rest and don’t continue to exercise the sore muscle group.

But in case the pain doesn’t go away in a week and/or you experience other symptoms that worry you, like swelling, you should call your doctor.

Although there is no “treatment” for DOMS, there are some ways you can alleviate its symptoms.

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

If the pain you’re feeling has come to the point of being debilitating or is really bothering you, a solution you can try is taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Ibuprofen, naproxen, or diclofenac are some examples of NSAIDs. They will ease the pain and reduce inflammation. Always follow the dosage amount instructed by your doctor or the instructions that came with your medicine. [3]


Another thing you can try is massaging the muscles that are in pain. Experts believe this increases the blood flow to the muscles and reduce their stiffness. You can also try to use foam rollers for this massage. [4]

If you want to ensure the massage is done in the correct way and you will reap all its benefits it’s never a bad idea to seek a professional.

What To Do Next

Don’t forget to eat after working out. It’s very important. You will have a faster recovery and you’ll feel better in general.

Martim Pintão

Martim Pintão

Martim is a fitness enthusiast who loves to help people get into shape. He founded Dream Strength in order to do just that, and he doesn't plan on stopping anytime soon!

1 thought on “What Is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)? – The Ultimate Guide”

  1. Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wished to say that I have truly enjoyed surfing around your blog
    posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope
    you write again very soon!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *