You’ve gone for a longer than normal run. Or you’ve started exercising after a long period of inactivity. Or you’ve started a new type of fitness class. It might feel great during the session, and even the next day, but what about the day after the day after? Walking down the stairs, or even just putting on your pants can feel really like your whole body is aching. Welcome to DOMS. DOMS can be a common sensation after exercising, but here’s how to reduce DOMs after a hard workout – after all, it’s no fun to be hobbling around for days after!
What are DOMS?
DOMS stands for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness and it refers to the muscular discomfort and pain that often occurs after engaging in strenuous physical activity or exercise, especially when your body isn’t accustomed to the intensity or type of workout. It typically sets in 12 to 24 hours after exercise and peaks around 24 to 72 hours post-workout. You know how it can feel really uncomfortable walking down stairs after a particularly long run? Or how it feels achey after you’ve sat down for a while after a workout, and then have to move again? That’s DOMS!
DOMS is the result of microscopic damage to muscle fibres and the subsequent inflammation and repair processes that follow. This discomfort can vary in intensity from mild to severe and often includes symptoms like muscle stiffness, tenderness, and reduced range of motion.
Are DOMS normal?
A little bit of post-workout muscle ache is normal, especially if this is your first workout in a while, if you’ve done an activity you’ve not done before so it works your muscles in different ways than you’re used to, or if you’ve increased the intensity.
Are DOMS a sign of a good workout?
DOMS are your body’s way of telling you that you’ve worked your muscles hard. On one hand, they can be a sign that your muscles are going to be rebuilding stronger than before. On the other, it can be a warning sign not to push yourself too hard otherwise you can damage the muscle fibres further. There’s no benefit to having DOMS so bad that you cannot move for days after.
Plus, it’s important to remember that DOMS shouldn’t be the main way you gauge whether a workout has been effective. You can still have an effective workout and not experience DOMS.
Here’s our top five ways to reduce DOMs after a hard workout
Proper hydration is the foundation of effective recovery. After an intense workout, your body loses fluids through sweat, and dehydration can worsen muscle soreness. To combat this, make it a priority to drink enough water throughout the day. Aim for a minimum of 8-10 glasses of water daily. If you don’t like water, herbal teas can be a good source of hydration also. We particularly love the range from Tuuli Tea. You can also include hydrating foods like melon and cucumbers in your post-workout snack.
Massage It Out
Massage can help reduce the effects of DOMS as it helps speed up the healing process by getting blood flowing to the area. This brings with it oxygen and nutrients, which helps repair the fibres, reduce pain and decrease inflammation.
Sports massage can feel great after a workout, and can provide an important part of your health and fitness schedule.
You can also do self-massage with foam rolling. Roll over tight and sore muscles to release tension and improve blood circulation. Concentrate on the areas that bother you the most, but don’t overdo it. A few minutes of foam rolling post-workout can make a significant difference. Main tip? Avoid rolling over joints.
If you want to level up your self-massage, try a massage gun. We particularly like the Lola, which is a handheld home massage gun. It comes with four different settings, as well as four different massage heads so you can massage all parts of your body effectively. This is fantastic for post-workout massage, but can also be used before a workout to help warm up muscles.
Nutrition plays a vital role in muscle recovery. After your workout, your muscles need the right nutrients to repair and grow stronger. Focus on a post-workout meal or snack that includes a balanced mix of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. A turkey sandwich on whole-grain bread can provide the necessary nutrients. If you’re veggie, a nutrient-rich meals could be a chickpea and grain salad with halloumi and seeds.
Embrace an Active Recovery
Instead of lounging on the sofa, or avoiding movement as much as possible, consider incorporating active recovery into your routine. Activities like gentle walks, light stretching, or even a yoga session can increase blood flow to your muscles, speeding up the recovery process and reducing muscle stiffness. It makes all the difference!
Use Magnesium Spray
Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays a crucial role in muscle contraction and relaxation. When you engage in intense physical activity, your muscles undergo stress and strain, leading to potential magnesium depletion. Applying magnesium spray topically can help replenish magnesium levels directly to the affected muscle areas, promoting better muscle function and relaxation. This can, in turn, reduce muscle cramps and soreness associated with DOMS. Additionally, magnesium has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help mitigate the inflammation that often accompanies muscle soreness. While magnesium spray can be a useful tool in managing DOMS, it’s essential to remember that it should complement other recovery strategies, such as proper hydration, nutrition, and rest, for the most effective relief.
Our favourite magnesium spray is from Better You – Magnesium Muscle Body Oil Spray especially.
The best way to reduce DOMs after a hard workout?
Is a mixture of all the above. There’s no one single magic solution – but incorporating several or all of these will boost your recovery and reduce your DOMS.