What is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)?

OUCH! I’m so sore!! – What is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)?

Here’s the scenario:

Alarm goes off…

“Ugh, what the hell?”

It hurts to reach for the clock…

“Oh, my heck! I don’t know if I can get up.”

Roll out of bed.

“Holy $#!^ it hurts to walk!!”

Hobble into the bathroom…

“Uh-oh, I don’t know if I can sit on the toilet!!”

Does any of that sound familiar?


Ah, yes, good old next-day muscle soreness ?

But, why does it happen and what can I do about it?

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (a.k.a., DOMS) is the muscle soreness that occurs in the days after a challenging bout of exercise, a new exercise program or a dramatic increase in the intensity and/or duration of an exercise program.

DOMS usually kicks in about 12 – 24 hours after the workout and lasts for 1 – 3 days, and it’s something that many of our new (and even veteran) ForeverStrong P.T. transformers experience. Hey, if you want to transform, you gotta put in the work. But, don’t worry…


I’ve had many new transformers of ForeverStrong P.T. get a little freaked out by Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). Often, they think they’re too out of shape or maybe exercise just isn’t for them. That’s not the case. Everyone goes through it at some level or another. Hell, I did some things this past weekend I haven’t done in a while (workouts, my friends ), and guess what – I GOT SORE!

So what the heck causes DOMS anyway?

There’s actually not a 100% known cause, but there are some commonly accepted theories. The most agreed upon one is that Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is the result of microscopic tearing of the muscle fibers during exercise, particularly the eccentric (lengthening) portion of an exercise. The amount of tearing (and soreness) depends on how hard and how long you exercise and what type of exercise you do. In addition to small muscle tears there can be associated swelling in a muscle, which may contribute to soreness.

doms muscle

Muscle Fibers after a bout of Intense Exercise

“Whoa, whoa, whoa! Muscle tearing? That doesn’t sound good.”

Actually, it’s quite normal and necessary in an exercise program designed to increase strength, build muscle, burn fat – in other words, an effective weight loss program.

To be clear, we’re talking tears at the microscopic level, not major muscle tears like a torn bicep or pec injury.

As a result of these microscopic tears, several good things happen that ultimately boost your metabolism, help you build muscle, burn fat and lose weight.

  1. With proper rest and nutrition your body will go into repair mode and rebuild the damaged muscle cells. That’s why using a post-workout shake like Cipla is so important. However, your body doesn’t just fix the tears and put everything back together…
  2. Instead, the body goes into an adaptive mode and builds the muscle fibers bigger and stronger so they can handle that same exercise stress if it occurs again.

 nutrition repair doms

Proper Nutrition Will Speed Repair & Recovery

Remember, more muscle equals faster metabolism, better fat burning and essentially a tight, toned, sexy body that looks great at the beach!

“OK. That all sounds good, BUT is there anything I can do about this soreness? I need to function today!”

While there are no “scientifically proven” techniques for getting rid of DOMS there are several things that work well for people. Here are my recommendations:

Foam Roll


If you’re like most people, you spend a lot of your day chained to a desk. And when you actually do have time to workout, all you usually can fit in is the workout itself. Really, who has time for daily stretching?

Well that’s where a foam roller comes in. It’s a phenomenal corrective self-massage tool that will dramatically bolster injury prevention and improve performance. It’s ideal to use for at least five minutes pre-workout to loosen your muscles up for a better workout. You can also use it post-workout to promote healing of the small micro-tears in your muscles that result from high-intensity training to jumpstart the recovery process. Plus, a foam roller both kneads out and lengthens your muscle and connective tissues thus alleviating, if not eliminating, nagging aches and pains in your back, knees, hips, shoulders, and elbows.

All of that is precisely why we do a Tissue Quality Circuit using a foam roller at every ForeverStrong P.T. workout.

If you’re going to get a foam roller, get a good one. The cheaper options tend to wear down into a limp noodle after a couple of months. We use professional grade foam rollers at ForeverStrong P.T. Our ForeverStrong P.T. transformers can get them at a specially discounted rate.

WARNING: DO NOT GO CHEAP ON YOUR FOAM ROLLER PURCHASE. You don’t have to break the bank, but you do want to make sure you get one that’s going to do the trick and last the test of time.

By the way, if you have no idea how to use a foam roller or want the complete follow-along Tissue Quality Workout that we do at with every client at ForeverStrong P.T.  ask me and I will provide one for you.


You simply can’t afford to skip your warm-up. It’s like pushing the pedal to the medal in the dead of winter in your frozen car- things just don’t work right and you’re not going anywhere.

A super-fast sports car is worthless if it’s not properly warmed up

It only takes about 5 – 10 minutes to loosen your muscles and lubricate your joints to best prevent injury and ready your body for a more effective fat burning workout. So, slow down tiger and don’t skip the warm-up!

More Techniques to Reduce Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

Try an Ice Bath or Contrast Water Bath. Although no clear evidence proves they are effective, many pro athletes use them and claim they work to reduce soreness.

Use Active Recovery techniques. This strategy does have some support in the research. Perform some easy low-impact aerobic exercise to increase blood flow. You could simply go for a 20-minute walk or light jog. This may help diminish muscle soreness.

Use the RICE method of treating injuries. RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Try two or three 20-minute treatments a day.

Stretching. Although the research doesn’t show that it reduces soreness, some people find it simply feels good.

So, there you have it. The most important thing to realize is that Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is totally normal. The first couple weeks of a new exercise program can be rough, but this is the time to make it or break it. Stay tough. Stay committed. Your results are just around the corner



Kevin Anderson – Owner of ForeverStrong Personal Training Services


Kevin Anderson is the President & Chief Fitness Officer of ForeverStrong P.T.  He also runs an at-home training program – Fitness 2 Go – providing the same great high-intensity intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts for all fitness levels as his personal training sessions…

Kevin is a certified personal trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine, a certified Metabolic Training Expert, a Yoga and Pilates Specialist and spinning instructor.

Kevin has been helping clients achieve their health and fitness goals since 2010.  To contact Kevin for training, education or to have him speak at an event please email foreverstrongpt@gmail.com


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