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Training

What is DOMS?

What is DOMS?

DOMS is an acronym for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. Most of us have experienced DOMS or will at some point in our training lives. Exercise science still has a lot to learn about DOMS and what are the direct causes. Let’s take a look at what we know so far.


Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

DOMS is the soreness you feel a day or two after you’ve performed an intense workout. If the workout bout is hard enough you may be sore for up to 2-3 days after. Studies have found relation to DOMS and eccentric muscle contraction.

Case Study

One study had runners complete 2 separate workouts one 45 minute run on a level treadmill and the same duration on a 10% downhill grade. Blood lactate concentrations were thought to be a factor in muscle soreness, however, the 10% downhill grade treadmill run reported less blood lactate concentrations after the workout bout as compared to the level running workout. The level running workout did not induce DOMS, however the downhill workout did (Willmore, Costill, & Kenney, 2012).

Exercising to the point of DOMS has been shown to decrease performance which may last up to weeks or even months after the exercise bout. This has been seen in downhill sprinters. There are many insights on what can cause DOMS. For example, actual structural damage has been discovered in cases of marathon runners experiencing DOMS.  Blood tests following intense bouts of running that induced DOMS lead to the discovery of specific muscle enzyme concentrations that may indicate structural damage.

This lead scientists to actually biopsy muscle tissue of DOMS sufferers which lead to the discovery of actual damage of the contractile filaments (filaments capable of producing contraction) and the z-disks that provide support to the contractile filaments .

This shows that intense exercise bouts can affect the contractility and structure of the muscle itself reducing performance by decreasing the ability to contract; thus reducing power output. Further research has shown that substances released from the injured muscle found in DOMS sufferers has led to inflammation. This is due to substances attracting to macrophages that induce more swelling and an immunoregulatory response.

DOMS cause pain, due to inflammation, which results in the soreness people feel. This effects the recovery process.

This Case Strudy was carried out by Willmore, Costill, & Kenney, 2012.

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Is DOMS Bad?

The quick answer is yes DOMS can be bad. Not only do DOMS cause intense pain, but worse is the detrimental effect DOMS have on your performance. DOMS is associated with three things that disturb strength and power production.

DOMS leads to physical disruption of the muscle itself as mentioned before, which can lead to you being unable to contract your muscles effectively, which reduces your ability to produce enough force to lift weight or run.

DOMS can be bad enough to the point of decreasing your strength and power output, and this will hinder your goals if training to the point of DOMS is prolonged. The best way to reduce the risk is to properly periodize your training program and allow your body to adapt to the stimulus before overloading the system. Most issues are with overloading the body past the point that it can recover and adapt to the stress applied. If you can find the happy balance by paying attention to your body and adjust accordingly you will be fine.

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DOMS & Recovery

There are a number of supplements that can help you recover and help to alleviate DOMS. Here are my top picks:

Thewhey – protein is the most important nutrient for helping your body to recover, maintain muscle and grow. Each serving of Thewhey contains 25g of fast absorbing protein. Take one serving post workout for optimal results.

BCAAs  branch chain amino acids are important for protein synthesis, which is important for helping to build muscle and speed up the recover process. Myprotein BCAAs come in a 2:1:1 ratuo of leucine, isoleucine and valine, which are the 3 most important amino acids for muscle growth and repair.

Micellar Casein – when you sleep you go for an extended period of time without eating, and this starves your body of essential nutrients. Taking one serving of casein before bed will provide your body with 24g of slow releasing protein to help your body recover and encourage muscle growth.

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Take Home Message

The most important thing is to understand that DOMS are a sign that you have overworked your body, so make sure you rest. If you can feel soreness in your chest then do not go and train chest. Wait until your chest has recovered and focus on training a different muscle group. Make sure you’re eating well and getting enough protein to help your body recover.

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Joshua Levesque

Joshua Levesque

Writer and expert


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