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Your Monday night workout is killing you—on Wednesday. Yep, one of the few downsides to a great workout is the muscle soreness you might experience the next day—or even the day after that. It’s even more likely when you’ve passed up the gym for more than a few days, or you’re working a body part particularly hard.
That soreness, in fitness circles, is called delayed onset muscle soreness, or more simply, DOMS. Here’s how to curb it.
DOMS usually shows up around 24 to 48 hours after the workout that causes the symptoms. Typically, the 24-hour mark is the peak of the discomfort; however, the symptoms can last for three to four days, or even longer. The cause of DOMS is not fully understood; however, according to the American College of Sports Medicine, “most believe soreness develops as a result of microscopic damage to muscle fibers involved in exercise.” And contrary to a longstanding belief, it has nothing to do with a build-up of lactic acid in your muscles.
Ease into Your Workout
Since DOMS is likely caused–at least in part–by the very muscle damage that leads to strength and fitness gains, there is little that can be done to fully prevent the condition. However, research has shown that if you gradually build up to a more intense level of exercise, you’ll reduce your soreness, while still gaining the benefits. Rather than diving right into an intense exercise program, consider easing into your routine with a session or two of acclimating workouts.
Seeking Relief: Your Alternatives
Fitness professionals, athletes and researchers have spent years searching for a cure for DOMS:
While we may not know everything about the causes of DOMS, we have learned a bit about how to mitigate its effects. This lets us keep the focus on having a great workout. In the meantime, hang in there. As they say: “No pain, no gain!”
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