Life, Training

DOMS and Muscle Soreness after Training

Some people never experience muscle soreness while others experience it after almost every session. Why? This sensation is said to be the result of the micro-tears in the muscle fibers that occur when training. Every time you train, you’re supposed to be breaking down your muscle; this is when its built back up to eventually grow a little stronger than before.

Why do some people experience this soreness afterwards and others don’t? There’s no real answer to that yet, other than it being your genetic response. We’re still learning about what exactly causes this delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). What we do know is that you’re more likely to experience this soreness when you begin a new training program or phase of training.

When you begin a new phase of training, you increase one or more of the variances in your training. This could be the training volume, intensity, frequency, new or more advanced exercises, or hitting specific muscles that you don’t typically train.

When your body is “shocked” from the new or advanced movements is when you are more likely to experience DOMS. This can last from 2-6 weeks for the average person, but some people experience soreness after every session. Again, we’re still doing research to find out why exactly this is, outside of the reasoning of genetics.

If you don’t experience this soreness after training, it doesn’t mean that you’re not training properly. If you experience soreness often, and it comes time to train that same muscle group again, you can do one of two things: 1. train the muscle anyways or 2. reschedule your training for that week.

The first thing you can do is see if you’re even able to train that muscle group by trying to perform the full range of motion of that mucle. For example, if you’re doing squats that day, you should be able to do a squat without feeling any uncomfortable pulling in your legs. It may be sore, but you should be able to squat down with full range of motion (ROM). Another example would be if your biceps are sore. You should be able to extend your bicep to its full ROM without intense, uncomfortable pain.

If you can’t perform a full ROM, then rearrange your workouts for the week and train another muscle group instead or take that as your rest day if you’re sore everywhere. Be sure not to train the same muscle groups back to back to prevent overtraining of that muscle.

When it comes to muscle soreness and DOMS, rest is the only real solution.



Lexes O'Hara

Lexes O'Hara is a personal trainer and nutrition coach. Her work philosophy is to teach her clients to, "train, eat, and live like a bad ass." Certifications include NASM CPT and FNS.