Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness: How to get rid of DOMS… and what the hell IS it anyway?
What Is DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness)?
DOMS is a common affliction that affects most individuals participating in an activity their body isn’t used to.
This could be simply hiking, jogging, walking or cycling, but it’s also something that affects individuals new to weight lifting or those who have taken a few days off from it.
It can be characterized by tenderness in the muscles, mild pain when flexing the affected muscles and it can even be as severe as debilitating pain in some rare instances.
In essence, DOMS is caused by a buildup of lactic acid in the muscles paired with broken down muscle fibres and inflammation causing your muscles to become sore for 2-3 days depending on the severity and your fitness level.
There’s really not too much you can do to avoid getting DOMS but there certainly are effective ways to greatly reduce its incidence.
Pro-Tip: Check out this awesome video by Jeff Cavaliere explaining what it is and some other details:
The Best Way to Get Rid of DOMS
Well, you see, there isn’t technically one singular way that you can get rid of it.
However, there are 3 basic methods you can use to greatly reduce DOMS.
Combining all three of them will allow you to ensure you get the most out of your DOMS reduction efforts.
Here are my personal three recommendations to get rid of this pesky condition. Make sure you stay tuned for the whole article because I will go through each of them in more detail with you below.
- Active Rest
- Rest by itself
- Massage including chairs, massage therapy, self-massage and more.
- Bonus Section: Best devices to help you out with muscle soreness
As you can see, there is no one singular way to effectively rid yourself of this disorder, but you can certainly have a better chance of eliminating it by doing a variety of different things.
Related: Hot Saunas and endurance enhancement – What’s the relationship?
Relieving DOMS in Your Upper & Lower Body
When most people think of how to get rid of DOMS, I’d argue that at least half the time you would think of your legs including quads, glutes, and hamstrings.
Thinking of how to get rid of DOMS in the leg muscles is the same as any other muscle group.
Legs are some of the biggest muscle groups in your body so finding an effective DOMS-relief technique could be very useful.
However, your upper body also makes up a large portion of your body so understanding how to prevent and treat DOMS is critical for your entire body.
In my honest opinion, one of the most effective ways I have found to improve post-workout soreness and stiffness is to simply go outside for a walk (or hike if you have time).
I’ll cover this in more detail below, but really quickly: Moving the target muscle group around by doing some light exercise is one of the best ways for DOMS relief.
Pro-Tip: Here’s a great video on active recovery by Workout Warriors:
You might also want to try:
- Bodyweight squats
- High-knee kick-ups
- Push ups
- Pull ups
- Australian rows
And, of course, just make sure you’re not overdoing it because, as you may know, rest and recovery are two of the most important factors in getting bigger and stronger so you don’t want to mess with that!
Do a few light sets, maybe 1-2, 10-12 reps each and then call it a day.
As you know, muscles require oxygen to live just like anything else in our body, and the way they get oxygen is through the flow of blood.
Therefore, if you simply take 15-20 minutes when you are experiencing muscle soreness to get some blood moving around in the problem areas.
I have found this to be extremely helpful and I am almost certain you’ll find it helpful too!
Related: How to do the standing Military Press (Overhead Press)
Getting Rid of DOMS With Rest
It’s probably no surprise to you that rest plays a crucial role in pretty much anyone in the world.
Everyone needs rest for their bodies and minds to recover, and using rest to reduce muscle soreness is no different.
I’ll keep this part pretty short since there isn’t much to say here, however.
One of the most important things to keep in mind is that muscles and body tissues do the most repair to themselves during rest which could mean not exercising and sleeping so it’s no surprise that rest is one of the most beneficial things you can do for muscle soreness.
Using Massage & Massage Chairs to Relieve DOMS
For a small subset of people, muscle soreness presents itself as a severely debilitating condition lasting for 3 days or more.
Special note: I should mention at this point that, if for whatever reason you have extreme pain, please go see your doctor and do not simply trust the fact that it’s probably just DOMS.
However, for most of you out there you can probably assume it is just a case of muscle tenderness and soreness.
CAN MASSAGE HELP WITH DOMS?
Massage is a great way to iron out tight muscles and provide your body with more oxygen flow in the form of blood throughout problem areas.
There is one caveat though – sometimes your muscles will be so sore that it will feel impossible to sit through a full massage without crying like a little girl on All Hallows’ Eve that got her candy taken away from her!
Related: The Beginner’s guide to muscle building and mass development
Pro-Tip: Check out this video by Livestrong on how massage can help you alleviate your DOMS.
WHAT ABOUT MASSAGE CHAIRS?
Well, what I can say about massage chairs is that sometimes they can provide you with a much better and less painful experience than a dedicated massage therapist albeit for a much higher up-front cost.
There are, however, massage chairs you can use at your local mall that you can pay a buck or two for about 5-10 minutes worth of massage.
Would I recommend it? Probably not as some of the above techniques have offered me better DOMS-relief results than massage, but it may work for you.
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- FDA approved, built-In heaters to waist, foot and butt, foot rollers massage.
- Comes with an installation video and detailed user manual, easy to assemble for you.
Bestseller No. 2
Massage Chair, TinyCooper C500 Zero Gravity Massage Chair, Full Body Massage Chair with Lower-back Heating and Foot Roller Black
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Bestseller No. 3
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- Footer Area has dual foot rollers and detachable & washable footer area cotton for sanitary purpose. Top recommended massage chair on amazon with customer reviews. FDA Registered as medical Device.
Foam Rollers & Osteopathy
CAN FOAM ROLLERS AND OSTEOPATHY BE USED EFFECTIVELY?
In terms of foam rollers, this can be somewhat similar to massage chairs and massage itself, but you get to control the pressure and where to use them.
Foam rollers provide you with a very gentle and controlled ability to massage out problem areas of your muscles using rollers, balls and other similar type of devices.
These can be amazing at relieving pressure and really loosening up the muscles and making them much less sore so I’d highly recommend learning more about those as well!
You can grab yourself one of these awesome foam rollers from Amazon if you want to find out more about how much they cost and what other people are saying about their effectiveness.
Lastly, how about osteopathy? Well, similar to massage, osteopathy might provide similar results so you would have to give it a try and see for yourself quite honestly.
Bestseller No. 1
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- High-density blue speckled foam roller with molded edges: Extra firm - best for intermediate and above. High density expanded polypropylene (EPP) that is designed for deeper massage than standard foam roller
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- Measures approximately 36 x 6 x 6 inches (LxWxH)
SaleBestseller No. 2
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- Foam Exercise Roller Helps Prevent Muscle Injury - Perfect for positioning, balance, postural and muscle re-education, spinal stabilization, body awareness and coordination, ranging and strengthening activities. Yoga - Fitness Foam Roller. Hard Foam Roller for IT Band
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SaleBestseller No. 3
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- Medium density muscle roller is comfortable to use - making it easy for beginners , but still effective at penetrating the soft tissue layer of tired muscles . Soft enough to use while in pain from lower back injury , sciatica or plantar fasciitis .
- One of the best recovery tools to treat muscle pain , increase performance and flexibility. Rolling before and after exercise sis part of a great stretching routine . Increases blood flow to massage site , flushing away stored lactic acid .
- Stretch overworked and strained muscles of the leg , arms , and feet by rolling during your warm up and cool downs . Provides instant benefit to the hamstring , IT band , glutes , and calves by delivering superior massages at home or in the gym .
- Loved by runners , Crossfit athletes , yoga and Pilates students , swimmers , physical or sports therapy patients , and those just doing a normal fitness workout . Great for the arch of the foot , and any part of the body but the spine or neck .
Related: Body recomposition for men and women
Conclusion & Final Thoughts
So we know I’ve thrown tons of information at you today but we want you to take something important away
from this: there are ways in which you can mitigate DOMS and a combination of two or more of the above is ideal.
Use active rest combined with actual rest for quick and effective relief from DOMS, and resort to massage, foam rollers or massage chairs for an even better effect.
Relieving yourself of muscle soreness, however, isn’t always required and DOMS certainly is NOT a bad thing to have in the first place.
If you find yourself having debilitating soreness you can certainly implement any of the above strategies to effectively help you recover and use any combination you desire!