by Janice Hillrich

Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is the muscle pain or discomfort often felt from 24 to 72 hours after intense exercise. DOMS typically subsides within two or three days. Although the precise cause is unknown, the type of muscle contraction seems to be a factor in the development of DOMS. Most clients (or gym-goers) can attest to the fact that DOMS is at its’ worst after “leg day”.  Exercises that involve many loaded, eccentric contractions can result in the most severe case of DOMS. For example, think about the quadriceps when you are in a squat position. As you hold that squat, you can see that the thigh muscle is under tension and stretched. You may be able to assume this position every day without soreness, but when you add external load (such as holding heavy weights or a heavy object above and beyond what you normally might carry in daily life), soreness occurs.


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There is no need to be alarmed by the onset of DOMS. It generally subsides in a couple of days. Additionally, IT IS IMPORTANT NOT TO MEASURE THE EFFECTIVENESS OR THE SUCCESS OF YOUR WORKOUT BASED ON THE APPEARANCE OF DOMS.  Often, clients will say to me, ” I didn’t hurt so I guess I didn’t work hard enough.”  This is a complete falsehood. Typically, if you try a new exercise, perform it in a new sequence, use new patterns, or add additional weight, DOMS will be more likely to occur. If you do not experience DOMS, that is not an indication that your workout is not intense enough or unsuccessful.


There are several theories on how best to overcome DOMS, from stretching to alternating hot and cold showers. However, the best way is simply to take time. You need about 24 to 48 hours to recover from this muscle building process.

Janice Hillrich is a certified fitness and TRX instructor.  A lifelong resident of the West Island, she founded Sisterhood Fitness out of a passion to help others achieve their fitness goals through hard work, compassion, and support. Contact her for more information or to set up your complimentary fitness assessment.