Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

Aching or stiff muscles a day or two after exercise are characteristic of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). It often occurs after a sudden increase in exercise levels or training, and is a result of microscopic muscle-fibre tears. Eccentric exercises (like lowering weights, squats, running downhill) are the most common triggers. Normally, cycling is entirely concentric – the muscles are not lengthened against resistance – but a heavy ride can still causeDOMS.

How to treat DOMS

There’s evidence that active recovery can help with DOMS. After an intense effort consider one or a couple of these options to reduce DOMS effectively:

  • cool down with a spin on the turbo or a gentle ride around the block
  • go for a sports massage, or use of a foam roller
  • wear compression clothing after exercise
  • yoga
  • take anti- inflammatories
  • use ice packs
  • and, rest.

Preventing DOMS before it starts

A thorough warm-up before a big effort can reduce DOMS. Consider an app like Sworkit to give you some stretching exercises if you are unsure of where to start.

Eccentric exercises are good for building strength, but if you’re new to them, try to stick to the 10 per cent rule of not upping your activity by more than 10 per cent per week.

If DOMS is a recurrent problem, consider talking to an experienced coach or sports physio. If your soreness doesn’t settle within a week, seek medical advice.