I’m sure most of us have gotten up out of bed (or tried too) the next day after an intense workout and could barely move because you’re so sore. Why does this happen? 

“DOMS” is a real thing y’all but what is this? 

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness: It is the pain and stiffness you feel in your muscles 24-72 hours later after your workout. 

DOMS can be very annoying especially when you’re just starting an exercise routine, strength training to boot, you are not going to want to jump out of bed and achieve your goals when you can barely lift your arms to brush your teeth or sit on the toilet without gringing… 

Strength training is much more worthwhile then people realize but the muscle soreness that occurs seems to discourage a lot of us. Little do we know, if we get over that hump, it isn’t so bad after all! 

Starting an exercise routine or implementing new exercises into your routine is where DOMS will take a higher place as opposed to if you have been doing the same exercises repeatedly.  

The one thing about Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness is that researchers do not know how much intensity it takes to occur or how increased your muscle soreness will be but certain tempos can really set it off like eccentric contractions. Eccentric contractions are a contraction while lengthening your muscles, for example, a bicep curl, slowly straightening your arms (lengthening) and exploding upon the contraction also known as the “braking” contraction. Genetics could be a part of it as well as stress on your body like dehydration if you aren’t getting enough water to your muscles and in your body to hydrate yourself, your muscle soreness will increase tremendously as opposed to if you were hydrated. 

Here’s a visual on what DOMS does exactly; 

  1. Unfamiliar exercise stirs up “something” (your body finds this uncomfortable) 
  2. The immune system reacts to that as “inflammation” and suppresses it over 2-4 days 
  3. A few days later you do the same exercise but this time your immune system is ready for it, so when “something” gets stirred up, it is much more effectively dealt with 

So, no matter your fitness level, DOMS will strike whenever you increase your workout, perform eccentrics or switch up to a new exercise routine your body isn’t used to.  

-Kaylin Hauge BS, CSCS


Disclaimer:  The author is not a physician or a registered dietitian. The contents of this article should not be taken as medical advice. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any health problem – nor is it intended to replace the advice of a physician.