The Return of DOMS!

by tinareale on June 20, 2012

Oh, man! After taking things a lot easier on the workout front for 10 days while on vacation and then hopping back into my normal fitness routine, I’m feeling it today. My leg muscles are screaming to me from the4 mile run and Cathe Lower Body Blast DVD I did on Monday. Yikes.

I’m not one to complain about muscle soreness, but I don’t like DOMS hindering my workouts. DOMS?

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. AKA the tightness that shows up 24-48 hours post workout.

DOMS signifies small tears in the muscle fibers and the inflammatory response as your body tries to heal. It stems from the eccentric motion in activities (the lengthening of the muscle).

It usually follows:

  • a challenging workout
  • a new training method or type of workout (like trying Cross Fit for the first time)
  • a new exercises or plan layout (moving from a push/pull split to full body or trying a new plan with new moves)
  • an increase in workout intensity or volume (moving to 4 sets instead of your typical 3 or increasing time)

You don’t need to (and shouldn’t!) expect it following every workout, though. Your body adapts as it is still strengthening, so please don’t feel the need for soreness to classify a workout as “good enough”. However, when you do face such muscle soreness, it is very important to take good care of your muscles. Tight muscles can throw your entire kinetic chain off if not cared for properly.

When I find myself with some tight muscles and difficulty sitting on the toilet, I try to focus on the following 6 things. They are my personal plan of attack to get rid of all that DOMS — and it works to help prevent bad soreness as well!


1. Drink LOTS of water. I find that by staying well hydrated, my body functions better in its healing processes.

2. Get LOTS of sleep. The body repairs itself best when at rest. Giving your body a good night’s sleep allows more healing time to repair those muscle fiber tears.

3. Stay active. MILDLY active. When I’m very sore, I do still get in some light activity. This helps bring blood flow to the sore areas and warms my body up for the  next part of my plan. I don’t expect to complete any challenging or longer duration workouts when facing a lot of muscle soreness and fatigue, though. That’s just asking for injury in my opinion. Mild soreness is one thing. If you’re having trouble walking or lifting your arms above your head? Take it easy, please.

4. STRETCH. It’s very important to help your muscles return to their proper length tension relationship and stretching helps accomplish that. More research suggests that you don’t want to complete static stretching on “cold” muscles. That’s why I will do a light activity (even a 10-15 minute light walk) to get some blood flow to the areas and then take a solid 15-30 minutes to stretch or perform some gentle yoga. I also highly recommend foam rolling tight areas and holding at the sore spots for 20-30 seconds.

5. Ice. I’m a fan of ice massage by using water frozen in little Dixie cups. The cold helps reduce inflammation.

6. Fuel up well…especially post workout. Your body needs fuel in order to have the energy to repair damaged tissue. So, aim to consume that post-workout snack (<— post full of ideas!) and choose quality foods through the day to nourish your body. You can also seek out foods that have an anti-inflammatory response, such as tart cherry juice like Cheribundi, or foods that aid in muscle recover like FitMixer’s branch chain amino acids.

Your Turn – What do you do to prevent overly sore muscles from workouts or to help relieve DOMS?


1 MizFit June 20, 2012 at 7:41 am

I crazy.
I a misfit ;-)
I kinda love the DOMS

Kinda ;-)

2 Lindsay @ Lindsay's List June 20, 2012 at 8:33 am

i’m with miz.
doms = awesome!

3 tinareale June 20, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Oh, I like the feel of them too…just not all the time. ;)

4 Caitlin June 20, 2012 at 4:10 pm

I too enjoy the DOMS and am always a bit psyched when I’m sore. I just love the feeling!!
That being said, I do try to remember to stretch (sometimes iffy, oops) and I ALWAYS hydrate. I also try to listen to my body and eat more if my tummy is calling for it, which it tends to after a tough workout.

5 Bonnie June 27, 2012 at 1:21 pm

hehe – I like them too! Perhaps I’m also a misfit at heart. ;) Such a great feeling!

6 [email protected] June 20, 2012 at 7:46 am

Great post Tina…think I’m doing all the right things and it definitely does help! Recovery time is much quicker when you look after yourself.

7 Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen) June 20, 2012 at 7:46 am

Gosh, I hear ya on this one! My calves are screaming at me for running on Monday for the first time in a LONG time. I’ve been doing all of this and I’ve been making sure to get a really good amount of protein in this week to help with the healing muscles. I have to admit that while I don’t love the pain (walking up and down the stairs is funs stuff right now), I love knowing that I’m moved in a different way and my body is changing for the better! Feel better soon Tina!

8 Ash Bear June 20, 2012 at 7:53 am

I couldn’t agree more with you regarding the importance of sleep and water. I think people forget the basics sometimes!

9 Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table June 20, 2012 at 8:00 am

i’m suffering from DOMS hard core. I started with a new trainer and my quads/glutes are so bad that I am gripping the counter to sit on the toilet. I’m doing everything you suggested (except the ice… I know, I know…). I am also trying to have lots of anti-inflammatory foods like cinnamon and cherries, and taking my magnesium. Ouch.

10 Lindsay @ In Sweetness and In Health June 20, 2012 at 8:49 am

Oh DOMS. I remember the days when I thought it was lactic acid build up causing the soreness haha. I’m so happy that getting my degree in exercise science really helped me learn about everything! I always try to get in some light activity and I should probably stretch way more than I do.

11 Kelly @ Laughter, Strength, and Food June 20, 2012 at 9:46 am

I love the soreness that comes along after a workout and these are great tips! Staying active for me is definitely an important step to working out the soreness!

12 Christine @ Love, Life, Surf June 20, 2012 at 9:47 am

These are great tips Tina. I admit, I do like a good case of DOMS but not all the time. For me, hydration and post-workout fuel is key!

13 Ashley @ My Food 'N' Fitness Diaries June 20, 2012 at 9:48 am

i will sometimes do a yoga video to help me stretch out even more. i also like to foam roll while i’m watching tv to make it a little more bearable.

14 tinareale June 20, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Yes! Foam rolling while watching TV is the best way to do it. Distraction while working out those knots. ;)

15 Jess June 20, 2012 at 9:53 am

I’m with the Miz on this one, I freakin’ LOVE DOMS!! Haha. Means I did something right ;-)
But to answer you, I stretch like a crazy person when I’m uber-sore and tight (TWSS??) after a killer workout.

16 jobo June 20, 2012 at 10:08 am

LOL you know it’s bad when you can’t even squat down to sit on the toilet – heehee! that made me giggle but soo true! I LOVE DOMS! Makes me feel so hurts-so-good and bad ass! But I also agree, that stretching, ice, the works, is needed to feel ready for that next workout!

17 Yellow Haired Girl June 20, 2012 at 10:11 am

Okay, I happen to love DOMS. But if it gets in the way of my life … sleep + foam rolling are key for me. I’m expecting some soreness this weekend – haven’t been to the gym in a bit. Battling sickness … can’t WAIT to get back in there!

18 tinareale June 20, 2012 at 3:33 pm

Those first workouts back always feel SO good!

19 Heather (Heather's Dish) June 20, 2012 at 11:06 am

i think for me the rest and water are the best option to combat soreness! well, that and moving. it’s hard to force yourself to stay mildly active when your body hurts, but i’ve never regretted it!

20 Paige @ Running Around Normal June 20, 2012 at 11:13 am

I love that you have three different forms of self-myofascial release tools ;) That = hardcore haha
Which one do you find you like best?

21 tinareale June 20, 2012 at 3:35 pm

It’s actually a 3 in 1 foam roller. I love the main one for quads/hams/ITB, the ridge one to get into really tight spots, and the roller for my calves. :)

22 Allison @ Running Through Red Lights June 20, 2012 at 12:16 pm

DOMS is such a great reminder that I put in hard work! It’s why I have a love-hate relationship with my foam roller.

23 Lisa June 20, 2012 at 1:12 pm

The only time I really have DOMS is from lunges and squats. OUCH. I took a week off from weight lifting while I was on vacation recently and when I got back to it I was nearly crippled!

24 [email protected] June 20, 2012 at 1:22 pm

I enjoy feeling sore-ONCE in awhile. But I totally agree that it is NOT necessary after every workout (and would be a sign of overtraining or not enough rest). I too was CRAZY sore after my vacay….yikes. I totally FOAM roll to help-and it do does! good post

25 PavementRunner June 20, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Great post… if I have a serious run, I’ll rock the ice bath. Other than that, it’s stretching and my best friend: The Foam Roller.

26 Lauren @ Sassy Molassy June 20, 2012 at 2:53 pm

Yes, I definitely find that with DOMS, continuing to move is the best remedy. For example, after marathons, I try to do some easy biking or spinning on the trainer and maybe some yoga the next day and the days after. It helps a ton. And of course drinking lots of water to flush out the lactic acid.

27 Caralyn @ glutenfreehappytummy June 20, 2012 at 11:22 pm

what a great post! those are some great times…definitely need to get more sleep! love your blog!

28 Kammie @ Sensual Appeal June 23, 2012 at 1:45 pm

This post is perfect. I did an intense leg workout yesterday and my quads are KILLING me. As soon as I read point number 1, I went ahead and drank some water that was sitting next to my laptop haha. I probably didn’t get enough protein yesterday. I know that. I have to remember to keep the protein intake higher and rest. I really need to get myself a foam roller too. Great post!

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