So you’ve just finished a tough workout routine, and you’re feeling great! You’re energised, pepped up and best of all, your muscles don’t hurt at all.
You hit the showers, get changed and head home, collapsing on your bed as drift off into a well-deserved sleep. Come morning, you wake up. You try to climb out of bed – and that’s when it hits.
Despite feeling completely fine the night before, your muscles are absolutely killing you now!
Why now? What causes this delay? Should you be worried?
If you’re experiencing muscle pain the day after a hard workout, we suggest getting comfortable and reading – today, our Highett physio explains this strange delay!
An Highett physio explains delayed onset muscle soreness
Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS for short) is something many fitness fanatics, athletes and weekend warriors will no doubt be familiar with. Even our Highett physio team experiences it from time to time!
While you’re in the zone smashing PBs, you feel perfectly fine – a day or two later though, and it’s all caught up with you!
Before you start worrying, this is a completely normal consequence of physical activity that stresses the muscle tissue beyond what it’s used to, and affects everyone from elite athletes to ordinary Aussies.
While pretty much any exercise can cause DOMS, it’s especially common if:
- Your routine includes a lot of “eccentric” exercises (that is to say, exercises where your muscles tense and lengthen simultaneously)
- You’re pushing your body beyond what it’s accustomed to
These have the potential to cause tiny, microscopic tears and strains in your muscle fibres. This is what causes DOMS – not lactic acid, as we once thought.
Why does it wait until the day after?
As we mentioned above, high-intensity or eccentric exercise is likely to cause DOMS.
It’s important to note however that it isn’t the microtears themselves that hurt – they’re so small, that your body doesn’t even notice them in most cases.
Rather, it’s believed that the healing process is what causes your muscles to become sore.
This healing process takes some time to kick into gear. Essentially, the body doesn’t really treat microtears as a big deal, and the healing process doesn’t trigger for a few hours – hence the titular delay in muscle soreness.
The pain typically peaks on the first or second day after, and can take up to 5 for the effects to subside completely.
For sure, you’ll want to skip the heavy cardio and weights while you recover – however, that doesn’t mean cutting exercise out entirely!
There’s nothing wrong with continuing moderate exercise, or focusing on training unaffected parts of your body while waiting for your muscle pain to subside.
What can I do to prevent DOMS?
Luckily for you, preventing DOMS doesn’t require a lot of conscious effort on your part – all it needs is some simple habit changes.
To begin with, take things slow. You need to learn to walk before you can run.
If you’re diving back into exercise after a long time away, our Highett physios suggest taking it slow and gradually building your way up.
In addition to helping reduce the likelihood of DOMS, it’s just good advice, end of story!
It’s also important that you have a good warmup routine. This can prepare your muscles for your workout, leaving them more flexible and therefore less likely to suffer from soreness like DOMS.
When to call your Highett physio
As we mentioned before, in the majority of cases, DOMS resolves by itself – all you need to do is give it time.
But what happens if it doesn’t?
If the pain persists several days after your ill-fated gym trip, it may be time to book an appointment with a physiotherapist in Highett- chances are it’s more than just DOMS you’re dealing with!
Have you noticed your post-workout pain…
- Isn’t resolving itself after 2-3 days?
- Isn’t just limited to your muscles?
- Presents as a sharp pain, rather than a dull one?
- Comes with swelling and discomfort in and around the joints as well?
If so, it might not be DOMS that’s causing your muscle pain – or at least, not entirely. In the worst case, you could have broken something altogether!
If you notice the pain lingering, the issue may be something deeper. For more specific advice, don’t be afraid to book an appointment with a physiotherapist in Highett.
Not just physiotherapy for muscle and joint pain
Your Highett physiotherapist is a specialist in reducing felt pain in both your muscles and joints. Using a wide variety of techniques, we can reduce your pain and can help restore strength and function to your muscles.
However, that isn’t all we do!
If you ask us, prevention is equally as important as treatment.
Part of our unique AUS system focuses on ensuring that you never have to deal with musculoskeletal pain in the first place.
- Optimising and improving your technique
- Helping you avoid aggravating old injuries and aches
- Providing a dynamic warm-up routine
- Telling you how far you can safely push yourself
- Strengthening your muscles in preparation
Whether you’re only just getting back into it after years away, an outdoors-type preparing for their next summit, or a fitness freak preparing for their next major competition, pain shouldn’t stop you.
Live a healthier, pain-free life with our Highett physiotherapists
Whether you’re worried about how frequently you’re experiencing DOMS or looking for help preparing for that overseas backpacking trip you have coming up later in the year, our physiotherapists can help.
We’ve made a name for ourselves thanks to our high success rate. Over the years, we’ve helped thousands overcome their pain and live their healthiest lifestyle.
You don’t have to take our word for it, either – we’ve got 205 (count ‘em) 5-star reviews under our belts!
If you want to get back into exercise without worrying about pain (including DOMS), give our Highett physios a call today!