DOMS: How to Deal with Muscle Soreness

How to Deal with Muscle Soreness

I’ve recently changed up my weightlifting routine again, and while I’m pleased with the results, I am not pleased with the soreness!  I can’t just stick to the same routine for infinity or I’ll never make progress, but switching up to different moves, higher weights, more reps, or all of the above means a few days of aching after each muscle group.


There is a fancy name for that next-day muscle hurt: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.  Muscles are built by straining them to the point of “microdamage” so they can heal themselves bigger and stronger.  Result? OUCH.  Sexy ouch, but still ouch.

On Reddit recently a user was complaining about DOMS and asked Fittit subscribers what they do to deal with the pain.

  • Ice
  • Foam Roller/Tennis Ball/Lacrosse Ball
  • Sleep
  • Vitamins
  • Warm Epsom Salt Bath
  • Contrast Showering
  • Active Recovery (run, jog, light lifting)
  • Bananas
  • Massage
  • Watermelon Juice 
  • Ibuprofen
  • Stretching/Yoga

I’ll admit I thought watermelon juice was a joke, but this article supports the claim (and is notably funded by the National Watermelon Promotion Board.  How can I get that job?)

My favorite article on the topic is here and essentially says, “Nope.  No proven method of prevention.”  Things like warming up and staying fit can help minimize DOMS, but nothing can prevent it altogether.  Most of the above methods will just take the edge off or provide a placebo effect. So for now, take solace in knowing it will get better and less frequent.


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About Sarah McMullin

Mother of two, Bachelor's and JD, married to a crazy high school teacher.
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13 Responses to DOMS: How to Deal with Muscle Soreness

  1. saketayoub says:

    You’re lifting weights at least three times per week. And that means you’re no stranger to sore muscles. Maybe you even wear these sore muscles like a badge of honor. After all, not everyone is willing to go to the gym and lift heavy weights week after week, so you’re special.

    But that “badge of honor” thing just works in public. In private, you’re probably cussing in the morning when you can hardly get out of bed. And any time you rest for any amount of time – such as just sitting at a desk for a while – you tend to get all stiff and sore.

    This pain you’re experiencing is referred to as “delayed onset muscle soreness,” or “DOMS” in bodybuilder’s speak. You see, when you lift heavy weights, your muscles get microscopic tears in them. These microscopic tears then get slightly inflamed as your body starts working to repair these tears. Both the tears as well as the inflammation are thought to contribute to the soreness you feel the day after a hard workout.

    Now, a word about this pain…

    While these DOMs are painful, they shouldn’t be debilitating. And you should start to feel better within a day or so. If you’re feeling sharp pains, that’s not good. That may be a sign of injury rather than simple muscle soreness. If you have a possible injury, then let it heal before you lift again.

    Assuming you’re just dealing with the regular sore muscles, you can keep working out. However, at the same time you need to give your sore muscles a chance to heal. And that’s why you shouldn’t work the same muscles during back to back training sessions. Instead, put at least two days between similar workout sessions – and more if you can swing it.

    So what should you do when you get sore? Follow these tips and see if you don’t start feeling better…

    Do light cardio. Go for a walk, ride a bike or go swimming. You don’t want to tax your muscles, however, so don’t lift weights using your sore muscles. Instead, just do light cardio to warm them up, which should make them feel better.

    Take a warm bath. Doing light cardio is one way to warm up your muscles. Another way is to take a warm bath or sit in a Jacuzzi.

    Use a topical cream. You may consider using a topical cream such as “Icy Hot” or “Bengay” to deal with muscles soreness.

    Cycle ice and heat. You can put an icepack on your sore muscles. Then later you can alternate and put a heating pad on them (or take a warm bath).

    Stretch. Obviously, you should stretch and warm up before each workout session. But you may also do stretching exercises at others times for the purpose of easing sore muscles.

  2. Well this is timely … I dusted off my Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30 DVD yesterday. In the words of Tai, my buns? They don’t feel nothin’ like steel.

  3. Peggy says:

    My previous strategy was to avoid exercise. 🙂 But after starting yoga I’ve experienced soreness in muscles I wasn’t even aware of. Good to know that it will get better, and that no one is immune. Great resources in the links!

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  6. richa says:

    nice tips really helpful for healthy fitness

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  9. John Smith says:

    Thank you for sharing this tips with us.

  10. Aditi sawant says:

    All tips are nice thanks for shared with us

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