If you’ve just started your new get fit regime, one thing is certain- you’ll have felt pains in muscles you didn’t know you had!
This is called DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) and can last anywhere from three to seven days. It often peaks 2-3 days after you have exercised.
BUT IT’S A GOOD THING! It means your muscles have been challenged at a structural level, and if you continue to gradually build the exercise, the muscle strength and structure will build with it.
What is the difference between DOMS and a pulled muscle?
DOMS gets better by itself. It also is usually the whole muscle that hurts, and on both sides of the body, whereas a muscle strain is usually more localised and on one side. DOMS comes on after the exercise, whereas a muscle strain usually comes on during.
Getting DOMS too many sessions in a row can lead to injury but usually only when people don't give themselves enough recovery time between sessions, or possibly have poor sleep patterns, high stress levels, or poor hydration and diet.
How do I minimise or avoid DOMS?
If you want to minimise your DOMS, choose a mix of exercises working different muscle groups, allow good recovery (a good night’s sleep, eat something within an hour of training, and stay well hydrated), and build your exercise gradually.
What can help my DOMS?
Anecdotally, people say massage, stretching, ice baths and low intensity cross-training can all help, although there doesn’t seem to be a set scientific formula.
Here's some stretches that may help - hold for at least 30 seconds for each muscle, do a couple of times.
Should I avoid training when I have DOMS?
No. It's fine to train on it and it should just get better after that second day. Obviously listen to your body and if it’s feeling vulnerable don’t push things.