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DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness)

Written by Healthwords's team of doctors and pharmacists based in UK | Updated: 13.02.2023 | 2 min read

DOMS stands for delayed onset muscle soreness and describes the soreness and stiffness felt in your muscles after exercise. It is normal and usually occurs when you do an exercise or movement for the first time, after a long break, or you work harder than your body is normally used to. DOMS tends to start gradually the next day or so, when you may wake up sore. It usually only occurs the first couple of times you are doing the new exercise, but if you keep doing it regularly, your body gets used to it, and the DOMS is less severe or may not occur. The soreness is due to small micro-tears in the muscle, which then lead to some inflammation but no need to worry, this is completely normal, and your body will rebuild the muscle back, usually stronger than before.

How long does it last?

DOMS resolves on its own over the course of a couple of days up to a week. You can do things to help with DOMS, which include cooling down well after exercise with low-level exercises such as steady jogging, walking, or cycling.

Caidr pharmacists' top tips

DOMS shouldn’t require you to see your doctor. If the pain bothers you, you can take some simple pain relief, such as acetaminophen. Other things that can help include massaging sore muscles or using ice baths within a couple hours after exercise.

If your pain occurs during the exercise, is severe, or lasts longer than this, it may be due to a different cause, such as a muscle strain or injury.

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