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6 Ways to Ease Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

Posted on November 27, 2017 by Erin Boynton, M.D.
doms.jpeg

If you’ve ever hit the gym really hard, you’ve probably suffered through this particularly nasty workout hangover. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS if you want to impress your meathead friends, is the muscular pain, stiffness, and soreness you feel 24-48 hours after you worked them, and can last up to ten days. Eccentric muscular contractions, in which the muscle is lengthened, make you especially susceptible to DOMS.

Now, while DOMS can be extremely painful, it isn’t pathological — it’s just a bunch of muscular micro injuries which, given time, will repair themselves and make you stronger. That being said, I don't recommend regularly pushing yourself to such extremes where you become so sore the next day that walking up stairs feels like ascending Everest.

However, if you do happen to suffer from DOMS, here are some things you can do:

water.jpeg1. HYDRATE

Hydrating before your workout can help prevent DOMS, and hydrating when you’re hurting can help treat it. You see, stiff muscles aren’t just overworked—they’re thirsty. Dehydrated tissue is hard and dry, but when you down your water bottle or sports drink, some of that water makes its way to the dry tissue, and it regains some of that lost suppleness.  

  

2. ALTERNATE BETWEEN HOT AND COLD TREATMENTS 

Personally, I like to begin with an ice bath, but I’m somewhat of a glutton for punishment and I know not everyone can take the chill. Still, it is good to start with something cold, and then alternate between cold and hot, like moving between an ice pack and heating pad every five minutes. This increases blood supply to the affected muscles which, in turn, accelerates the healing process. 

shoulder-compression-wrap-magenta.jpg3. WEAR COMPRESSION GEAR

Compression gear, like Body Helix compression sleeves, give your body a tight little hug, increasing the blood supply to all-those nutrition-hungry muscles. When used for injury management, there isn’t a better compression product available. Many of you are familiar with the RICE (Rest, Ice, COMPRESSION, Elevation) method of treatment. This method has been around for decades, proving its value when it comes to treating an injury. Compression treatment of the supporting muscles and tendons eases the burden on the injured tissue. In addition, increased blood flow and reduced fatigue have been scientifically proven with use of compression products.

4. TAKE AN IBUPROFEN

Will an ibuprofen help repair all those muscular micro injuries? No, but it will help reduce the pain, which will make it easier for you to move, and that will help you heal. 

5. MOVE AROUND

If you’re hurting from DOMS, it can be very tempting to spend the day in bed or splayed out on the couch, but it’s important to move around so you can flush out the muscles.  At the very least, you need to get up and walk a bit, but I’d also recommend some light cardio if you can manage it. Personally, I like to hop on my spin bike and dial the resistance down to zero, and just go nice and easy for 20 minutes.

Calf_Compression_Stretch.jpg6. STRETCH 

Finally, you need to stretch your muscles and work through that stiffness. If it’s your arms that are sore, start by gently moving them in every which way, slowly working towards regaining your full range of motion. Once you start moving and stretching, you’ll start to feel better pretty quickly, but as soon as you stop that stiffness will set right back in. So move as much as you can, but try not to overdo it — it may be active recovery, but it’s still recovery. 

 

 

Erin Boynton, M.D.

Erin Boynton, M.D.

Erin Boynton M.D. serves as Medical Director for Body Helix. For the last sixteen years, Dr. Boynton has also acted as the Medical Director for the Rogers Cup Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) tennis tour. She is an orthopedic surgeon, expert medical witness, consultant to the Toronto Blue Jays, and past-chair of the research committee for the Canadian Orthopedic Foundation. In addition, Dr. Boynton is a nationally ranked tennis player. Throughout her career as a surgeon and sports doctor, she has worked with many professional sports teams, including the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Argos, and she was the first female orthopedic surgeon to work in Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League. As Body Helix Medical Director, Dr. Boynton works closely on product development, product engineering and quality standards. She also provides input and oversight for product and clinical product performance.

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