top of page


At some point I’m sure we’ve all experienced the morning after exercise. You wake up in the morning with amazing soreness. The muscles you worked the day before feel fatigued and stiff. It even hurts to bend down to go to the bathroom! Your legs hurt, your butt hurts, your arms hurt, your stomach hurts, everything is sore. It’s not pretty! And the next day, day 2, (sometimes even day 3), it’s worse! If you have ever had this happen, you are experiencing DOMS.


DOMS are the incredible soreness that you may experience one to three days after working out. DOMS stands for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. DOMS often occur when we start exercising for the first time, when we have taken an extended break from exercise and are starting up again, or when we introduce a new type of exercise to our muscles. You can also get DOMS when you are taking your program to a new level such as you are lifting more, training harder, or running longer or faster. DOMS are a result of micro-tears in the muscle fibers. The body is wonderfully adaptable. When you push past a previous limit, the body will rebuild your muscle fibers to be stronger. When muscles repair themselves, they get larger and stronger than before so that same muscle soreness is less likely to occur when you work out at the same level.


DOMS will usually last between 24 – 72 hours. By increasing your exercise program gradually, giving your muscles can adapt, you will greatly reduce your chances of getting DOMS in the first place. Too much, too soon can bench you from the gym because you are so sore, or it can seriously decrease your drive and motivation to get fitter. Start easy and increase slowly.


1. DO A LIGHT WORKOUT - You will not be able to do an intense workout when you are sore and it is inadvisable to do so. However, doing some light exercise that takes your sore muscles through the range of motion will get the blood flowing and speed up your healing. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, this will help you to recover faster than vegging on the couch. Go out for an EASY walk, cycle, swim, or do some ultra light weights or body weight exercises. Movement helps the blood flow to get directly to the muscles. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to muscle tissues - specifically amino acids, which are the “building blocks” of muscle repair.

2. MASSAGE – Massages help to remove toxins in the body and increase blood flow which helps to heal the micro-trauma your muscles have experienced. Studies show that getting a massage after an intense workout will rapidly increase your healing and decrease your chance of injury.

3. FOAM ROLL – Foam rolling (otherwise known myofascial release), helps to realign sore, tight, and balled up muscle fibers. Foam rolling after exercise can speed up your recovery, decrease the soreness that occurs 24 – 72 hours after a workout, and it can increase your performance as well. If you don’t have a foam roller, you can also use household items such as rolling pins and tennis balls to assist in realigning the fascia and to promote blood flow.

4. STRETCHINGLight stretching (after movement such as a walk) is a great way to release tight muscles and increase your range of motion when you are sore. Make sure you don’t overstretch to the point of pain. When you are really sore you want to stretch between a 4 and no more than a 6 on a scale of 10. Hold between 30 – 90 seconds. Light stretching eases the muscles and helps them to relax.

5. TOPICAL TREATMENTS – Using ointments with an arnica or menthol-base (such as Icy-Hot) can help diminish soreness in the muscles. These products help to reduce inflammation and blood flow at the superficial skin level, while at the same time increasing blood flow to the muscles.

6. WARM BATH OR HOT TUBTaking a warm bath or soaking in a hot tub helps to relax and sooth sore muscles by dilating the blood vessels that promote blood flow. Some people choose to alternate between hot and cold.

7. COLD BATH OR ICE – Putting ice-packs on your muscles or standing in a cold ice bath after a taxing workout is great for taking down inflammation. The cooler temperatures reduce inflammation, swelling, and soreness. This is best done directly after a workout.

8. DRINK WATER – Staying well hydrated helps your body to speed up your recovery time. Water helps to remove the toxins from your body and keeps your muscles energized with oxygen.

9. EAT ANTI-INFLAMMATORY FOODS – Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables that are high in antioxidants and food with Omega 3’s (such as salmon, tuna, nuts, and olives). These nutrients will reduce your inflammation, and will combat the free radicals and oxidative damage to your muscles.

10. SLEEP Sleep is crucial for muscle repair after a strenuous workout. Many of the body’s important restorative functions such as tissue repair and muscle growth occur mostly or only during our sleep. During REM sleep, the muscles relax, which helps relieve tension and reduce symptoms of certain types of chronic pain. During NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep, the blood flow to your muscles increases tissue growth and muscle repairs. while you sleep, your body is also produces muscle-building hormones such as the human growth hormone (HGH).

DOMS happen to every exerciser at some point. They are not a permanent effect of exercise and you will not always have them. You will soon be able to do the same workout without any soreness. Your body will be much stronger and will be able to adapt to the next challenge. It goes without saying … DOMS are a powerful motivator to never quit exercising!


Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
No tags yet.
Follow me
  • Black Facebook Icon
  • Black Instagram Icon
bottom of page