August 09, 2023

Got a case of DOMS?! Here’s what to do.

Wondering why your muscles might be so sore after strength training? Welcome to DOMS (short for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) – it’s totally common, and in this article, our Head Trainer Danny Kennedy explains how we can manage it.

What is DOMS and why are my muscles so sore?!

DOMS stands for ‘delayed onset muscle soreness’. This occurs after you’ve provided the muscle with enough of a stimulus (heavier weight, more reps, variation in exercises or increased intensity) that you’ve created micro-tears or ‘muscle breakdown’ which is essential for building strength and lean muscle growth. DOMS isn’t a bad thing, it’s often an indicator that you’ve given the body a reason to change, however you shouldn’t be feeling DOMS consistently over time. Typically you should only experience bad DOMS after getting back into the gym after taking some time off, a new of different exercise that your body isn’t used to, an increase in difficulty in your workouts or for exercises where you’re the muscle particularly on the eccentric phase of the rep (eg: Romanian deadlifts).

What do you recommend doing if you get to a day and you’re sore, but still feel up to Lifting / working out?

You can definitely still get a great workout if you’re experiencing DOMS. In this case I would recommend either targeting a muscle group that isn’t sore by using one of our masterclasses or simply spending a little extra time warming up or foam rolling and just going a little lighter on the exercises that use the muscles that are feeling quite sore still.

What do you recommend doing if your body is literally so sore / not sure if it’s up to lifting weights?

If your body is sore to the point that you feel like you won’t be able to train effectively or even risk injuring yourself by pushing through, this is a great time to throw in some extra mobility or stretching and listen to your body by either taking a complete rest day or using some active recovery such as a slow walk (listening to a podcast or audiobook etc).

Is DOMS temporary – when will it go away?!

DOMS as the name would suggest is typically a delayed soreness that peaks 2-3 days after training. It will however go away and is only temporary. Unless you are experiencing soreness that is unbearable, don’t be surprised or scared of some soreness in the working muscles in the following days after training, especially if you’re just getting used to trying new exercises and equipment in the gym. Remember, in order to make progress we have to give our bodies a reason to change, which can often be a shock to the muscles and body, but it’s essential for progress.

Do you recommend cold showers / ice baths for those who are game to brave it? What are the benefits?

I am a huge advocate for both ice baths and cold showers. I typically start every single day with a cold shower. Cold water therapy can be a great tool to enhance recovery, particularly when you’re sore. The cold water will improve blood flow and can help with speeding up the process of getting rid of some nasty DOMS (important that the cold shower or ice bath is done either before or completely separate to training as when done directly after training it will actually slow the muscle building and recovery process down). On the other hand, cold water therapy (especially a daily cold shower) is an incredible tool for building on your discipline and can lead to improved clarity and productivity.

Danny Kennedy