Got DOMS? (Delayed- Onset Muscle Soreness)

Delayed – onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is exercise related muscle pain. It develops after excessive and unaccustomed exercise, and is particularly prevalent if that exercise has an eccentric (contracting whilst lengthening) component.

How is it caused?

DOMS is caused by myofibril tears (muscle strains) and this  micro trauma results in an inflammatory response with intramuscular fluid and electrolyte shifts.


Symptoms include a dull muscular ache that develops 24 to 48 hours after the performance of a new or strenuous exercise. It is localised to the involved muscles and will result in muscle stiffness and tenderness.

Treatment and Prevention

Initial treatment includes active rest, icing,  NSAIDs, gentle massage and stretching.

To minimise development of DOMS the following suggestions need to be followed:

  • Gradually increase the intensity of your exercise program.
  • Be aware of the amount of eccentric exercise you are including in your workouts.
  • Ensure you do a thorough cool down following your workout
  • Stay hydrated – the more hydrated you are before, during, and after a workout, the less likely you are to experience DOMS

It is normal to experience DOMS in the days after a workout, however it could be a serious problem if it persists for more than 36 to 48 hours at a time. In that case, it’s possible you may be mistaking your muscle soreness for rhabdomyolysis.

Please consult your physiotherapist for more information regarding DOMS.