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Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness and Training: How Much is too Much?


DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness is something you probably have encountered if are an experienced exerciser, and if you are new to exercise something you will likely encounter at some point. DOMS is a response from the body following a bout of exercise, which can vary in severity from a dull, sore annoyance, to severe soreness, stiffness and pain which limits you’re ability to perform activities of daily living. DOMS usually arises 24-48 hours following activity, but can last up to 5 days if severe. There is some controversy as to the physiologic cause of DOMS, but the likely causes are a mixture of lactic acid build up, muscle spasms, connective tissue damage, muscle damage/micro tearing, inflammation and enzyme efflux. Although DOMS can be a frustrating thing to experience, it can be a great indicator of whether you are overtraining, undertraining or the appropriate amount. As a general rule of thumb, if you are feeling significant pain and stiffness for more than 1-2 days following exercise, you may be over training. On the other hand, if you’re not sore at all following exercise, you may want to consider making your workouts a little more challenging. DOMS which lasts for 1-2 days following exercise may indicate that you are working at the appropriate level.


Should I Exercise With DOMS?

When it comes to DOMS, a lot of exercisers tend to take caution and avoid exercise when they experience this phenomenon, but that is not always necessary. A good way to avoid over training and manage DOMS is by splitting strength workouts into different major muscle groups (IE: chest, shoulders, back, core and legs) and perform a different muscle group each day to avoid full body soreness. Another effective way to manage DOMS is by performing low impact exercises such as recovery runs, swimming and yoga to work on cardio, mobility and improve circulation.

Whether you’re planning to work on strength training in the new year, or some other fitness related goals, your friends at FunctionSmart PT are rooting for you. You got this! If you need any help along the way we would be more than happy to help you set and achieve your goals, keep you out of pain, and help you get to a stronger, healthier you.

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