It can be an invigorating feeling to experience sore muscles after a workout since it can indicate that your muscles are getting stronger. However, the soreness, especially if it hasn’t subsided after a couple of days, can also indicate that you have really challenged some muscle groups to a point of muscle fiber damage.
The result can be what health experts call DOMS, or delayed-onset muscle soreness, a musculoskeletal condition that occurs after performing any physical activity that is more intense than your usual workout. It also occurs after you’ve resumed an exercise routine that you have discontinued for some time.
With the variety of workout routines being developed in more exercise studios nowadays, muscle tenderness is becoming fairly common. Discovering new exercises is important for increasing your motivation to exercise, but you have to make sure that you perform new routines timely, safely, and gradually. Nevertheless, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to ditch your regular workouts. Your usual routine can make you stronger and leaner, as long as you do it consistently while applying the principles of correct exercise progression, modification, and variation.
How to prevent extreme DOMS
To avoid extreme and prolonged DOMS, you need to warm-up longer. Warm-up at least 10 minutes and do enough stretches if you are trying a new exercise or if you are going back to your old exercise routine. Gradually progress your exercise and always modify the range, intensity, and execution. Additionally, eat the right amount of high-quality food before and after a workout, and get enough rest and sleep for an effective recovery.
How to manage DOMS
If you consistently work out, you need to exercise different muscle groups or engage in milder forms of exercise like gentle yoga, Pilates, or brisk walking. Having an ice bath post-workout for 15 to 20 minutes also helps manage the soreness. Alternatively, you can get a mild to moderate body massage or use foam rollers on the affected muscles to lessen the discomfort.
When to see a health professional
The soreness typically begins six to eight hours after an exercise and lasts for 24 to 48 hours. See a doctor if the soreness has not subsided after three days and is negatively affecting your daily functions due to swelling and muscle weakness. Watch out for other signs, like severe swelling and abnormal urine color and amount, to prevent joint and other serious medical conditions.