The Biggest Reason That Keeps People Away From Gym: DOMS

Hi friends,

Happy International Yoga Day! Happy World Music Day! Happy Friday! How was the last week, for you all?

Those of you who are with me on Instagram (, probably already know about the new challenge that I have undertaken recently. I am super-stoked about it! Wish me luck!

It is considered an extreme sport but…but…I am not going to go to that extreme, as of now! I’ll be covering basics and some more, of gymnastics and yes, Parkour.

Parkour is a training discipline using movement that developed from military obstacle course training. Practitioners aim to get from one point to another in a complex environment, without assistive equipment and in the fastest and most efficient way possible. Parkour includes running, free running, climbing, swinging, vaulting, jumping, plyometrics, rolling, crawling and other movements as deemed most suitable for the situation. Parkour’s development from military training gives it some aspects of a non-combative martial art.

I have already finished a few classes and ah! the joys of doing a cartwheel! To be honest, true Parkour is still a long way to go 😊! That picture of me putting an ice-pack on my sore wrist was the result of attempting too many hand-stands 😛

The pic from Instagram

It is taxing to the body yes, but liberating to the soul…if you know what I mean. 😊

Ah! Look, I have started to daydream yet again, of me jumping from heights and climbing walls like a pro but I digress. Today’s blog isn’t about Parkour. Though, please join me on Instagram to be with me, on my journey to Gymnastics and Parkour…and more!

You know what is not funny while doing all this? Two things. First one is extreme stretching which literally makes you beg for mercy and the second is, DOMS (Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness).

As the name suggests, this is the soreness in the body after repeated attempts to do new activities which are physically challenging. I now choose to ignore it and I go by my daily life as if its not there. My prior experience with the strength-training and lifting weights in gym, proved to be helpful here.

But still, it goes like this:

-Me waking up in morning – “Ahh!! My back!”

-Me walking – “Ahhh! My legs!”

-Me sitting – “Ahhhh! My bums!”

-Me coughing – “Ahhhhh! My tummy!”

What Is DOMS?

DOMS was first described in 1902 by Theodore Hough, who concluded that this kind of soreness is “fundamentally the result of ruptures within the muscle” (* source: wikipedia)

Basically, Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is the pain and stiffness felt in muscles several hours/days after any strenuous exercise that our body is not used to. The soreness is felt most strongly 24 to 72 hours after the exercise.

It is a temporary condition. Though this temporary condition is not a prerequisite for muscle strengthening (and fat loss) but I have realized from my own experience and from hearing many, many others, it does happen and there is no easy way around it. The good news is, your muscles would come back stronger! You would be stronger. Do read my post on the magic of Strength Training here!

DOMS is neither an inherently good nor bad thing, but it is important to understand why it happens.

Why Does DOMS Happen?

DOMS can happen to anyone, even professional athletes, after any type of exercise especially exercise to which one is unaccustomed or ill-prepared for. 

In past, lots of theories have been given such as ‘Lactic Acid Theory’  but today, we know that tiny microscopic tears in the muscle tissue result in fluid accumulation and inflammation, and inflammation is the main cause of soreness. 

It has a lot to do with lengthening and shortening of our muscles while we exercise.

Sounds scary? Time to visit the physiotherapist? Wait! All the above are not necessarily a bad situation!!

A “Did You Know” Fact Here –

Did You know that not all Inflammations are bad for us? Inflammation is an important part of our body’s healthy response to injury and infections. It is important for protection and self-healing mechanisms. Good Inflammation!

However, in some diseases like arthritis etc the body’s defense system aka the immune system – triggers an inflammatory response in our body even if there are no foreign invaders to fight off. In these diseases, called autoimmune diseases, the body’s normally protective immune system, causes damage to its own tissues. The body responds as if its normal tissues are infected or somehow abnormal. Bad Inflammation!

How Long Does It Take DOMS To Go Away?

DOMS is temporary — depending on how intense your exercise was, any delayed onset soreness should go away within about two to four days. During this recovery period, the goal should be to help your muscles naturally pump out excess fluid and decrease inflammation.

You also need to give your muscle fibers time to heal. Don’t worry, when done correctly, your muscles should actually come back stronger than before.

Stronger? Really? How?

After performing an unaccustomed eccentric exercise and exhibiting severe soreness, the muscle rapidly adapts – to reduce further damage from the same exercise. This is called the “repeated-bout effect”.

As a result of this effect, not only is the soreness reduced but any swelling, reduced strength and reduced range of motion, are also more quickly recovered from. The effect is mostly specific to the exercised muscle but the protective effect is also passed on to other muscles.

In short, you come out much stronger, every single time! And soon, your body adapts to it. Just give it a month!

How To Treat DOMS

One needs to keep moving and keep on being active. Staying in bed and taking a break completely, makes it worse.

  • Do active recovery — light and low-intensity exercise that helps get the blood flowing and muscles moving, such as walking, easy biking, and gentle hiking or swimming
  • A gentle massage (deep tissue massages are not advised with DOMS)
  • Use a foam roller to gently roll out and gently stretch your sore muscles
  • Ice-packs do help too

How To Prevent DOMS

It’s important to remember that DOMS can happen to anyone, even highly trained athletes, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. But it’s also not something you should use as a marker of work effort.

  • Always do a proper 10-15 minutes warm-up and cool-down, before and after your exercise routine. This helps your muscles prepare for exercise and safely recover from physical stress
  • Go slow with the intensity of your exercise and build slowly and gradually.
  • Drink plenty of water. Do read my post on hydration here
  • Schedule a few rest days between your workout days. Do light activities on this day such as light cardio, walking, swimming, cycling etc
  • Just keep going!

Hope you liked today’s post and found it useful! Share with me your experiences with DOMS.

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Till next Friday, XOXO

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