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How to Recover from DOMS when Training at Home

All you need to know about DOMS and the best methods of recovery

Published: April 16th, 2020, 15:00hrs

What is DOMS?

DOMS stands for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness which is usually experienced 24-48 hrs post exercise. In some cases, DOMS can be fairly debilitating and cause pain and restrictive movement for a number of days until it eventually subsides.

Is DOMS harmful?

DOMS is simply a part of the body’s natural healing process. Mild DOMS after exercise is completely fine and should subside as you adapt to the current training stresses.

Why does it occur?

Our cells have a lifecycle and naturally turn over every few weeks. Cells die as new cells are created and this is a natural process. When we exercise, we intentionally damage cells to elicit an adaptive response to stress. The new growth of cells allows us to cope with stress and increase strength or work capacity. If we exercise infrequently or suddenly with higher than normal load, a large quantity of cells become damaged. This will trigger an inflammatory response. This response causes the pain we feel and explains the slight delay as the inflammation sets in. This response is simply a part of our body’s natural healing process.

What can we do about DOMS?

There are only two strategies to cope with DOMS:

1. Avoid it - We should structure training that will promote an adaptive response without excessive damage. This will keep inflammation at a relative minimum while still progressing our training and is the best strategy. Gradual and realistic progression of training intensity should be something a training plan takes into consideration. We must also be aware of our environment and training state. Any increased stress from heat, dehydration or lack of fuel will increase the damage we do for a given session.

2. Manage it Pain management is our second option, anti-Inflammatory medication and pain killers will help manage the pain of DOMs.

We can support our body’s healing processes with rest and nutrition but not much else is proven. Light stretching or exercise can help pain perception through endorphins and increased blood flow, but these are not going to reverse DOMs.

A note on recovery!

Recovery is the process of reversing factors of fatigue, these include hydration, fuelling, restoring muscle contraction and function etc.