What is DOMS and how do you treat it?

DOMS or delayed-onset muscle soreness is muscle pain that sets in after you’ve worked out. It usually kicks in a day or two after your workout.

DOMS is not something you feel whilst working out, if you are experiencing pain during your workout this is something else, likely acute muscle soreness.

Castle Gym in Nottingham has a team of expert personal trainers. They have some information and top on DOMD and how to treat it.

5 main symptoms of DOMS:

  • Muscle fatigue
  • Short-term loss of muscle strength
  • Muscles feeling tender to the touch
  • Reduced range of motion due to pain and stiffness when moving
  • Swelling in your affected muscles

The main thing to remember with DOMS is it doesn’t last forever! If you are experiencing any of all of these symptoms of DOMS for longer than 1 week then you may be pushing your body too hard. If the pain does become more severe, seek medical help.

How can you avoid DOMS?


Spend 5 to 10 minutes before each workout doing some dynamic stretching.

Stay hydrated.

Our trainers see that those who exercise in hot, humid temperatures had a big dip in muscle soreness when they drank water before, during, and after exercise, compared to those who don’t hydrate. You need to stay hydrated in order to sweat, and to safely exercise. 

Take it slow.

Whilst DOMS aren’t completely avoidable, they can be lessened by ensuring you are not overdoing it. Taking it slow to start off with can help you safely build your strength and endurance which will help to reduce the effects of DOMS.

Cool down. 

We believe that a 15–20-minute cooldown of low-intensity cycling or walking after a lower-body strength-training session led to decreased DOMS in the quad muscles.

What can you do to treat DOMS?

Have a Massage or Self-Massage.

Our clients at Castle Gym have reported that having a massage 24 to 72 hours after a workout significantly lessened their soreness. They also reported that a massage helped them feel recovered and more prepared for their next workout. Overall, getting a massage 48 hours after a workout seems to work the best for our clients.

We understand that not everyone can afford a personal trainer or a massage. However, getting a friend or loved one is another option. Or you can try a self-massage on your calves, thighs, glutes, arms, or shoulders (depending on where your DOMS is affecting).

To massage your muscles, apply some oil or body butter/moisturiser to the area and knead, squeeze, and gently shake your muscles. It’s always best to do a self-massage following a bath or shower as this helps your muscles to relax. 

If you don’t want to get covered in oil or moisturiser following your bath or shower then another option is to use a foam roller right after a workout which can also help head deter a bad case of DOMS.

Have a warm bath.

If you’ve had a good workout then you’re likely to be very sweaty. Run yourself a nice warm bath to help relax your muscles and clean up. The warm water helps reduce the amount of stiffness that can set in following a strenuous workout session.

Have a cold bath.

If you’re on an elite level then you will already know the power of ice baths, and we know they’re not fun, but they work! Cold baths have become a popular self-treatment for competitive athletes. The cold-water shock following a workout has been proven to greatly lessen the effects of DOMS.

Eat anti-inflammatory foods.

The nutritionist team have found that some of our clients reported lessened effects of DOMS when our trainers added anti-inflammatory foods to their diet plans. Food and drink that included cherry, pineapple, and ginger, has positive effects on their recovery.

For more information and advice head to the Castle Gym blog.

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