Understanding Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

DOMS Have you ever adopted a new workout regimen, then ended up kicking your ass so hard that you became discouraged from the pain you experienced after your workouts? If so, you were probably taken by surprise when delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) set in. What often occurs is that people adopting new exercise regimens may become quickly discouraged, usually because they don’t understand why they are so sore, and will back off from exercising without ever getting a chance to maintain consistency. However, DOMS may be a beneficial signal that your workouts are challenging enough to make a difference.

DOMS typically develops between 24 to 72 hours after physical activity, and is considered a relatively normal and common result of activity that challenges muscle tissue. One popular but flawed theory is that the microscopic tears which occur in the muscle fibers after exercise, coupled with the release of lactic acid and protons, are responsible for the muscle soreness which characterizes DOMS. Mizumura and Taguchi determined in an important study that neurotrophic factors are produced by muscle fibers and satellite cells, and are critical for the development of DOMS symptoms. They also determined that damage to muscle fibers was not a necessary component of DOMS, further suggesting that a neurological cascade is what results in the post-exercise soreness.

For the most part, the aches and pains which characterize DOMS are assumed to be a sign that your muscles are adapting to the activity which caused them to develop in the first place. Rather than shying away from physical activity in the long term, the general recommendation is to take it easy for a few days, while still exercising, until the pain subsides. However, those of us who are gym rats and fitness freaks will tend to adopt the “Suck it up, buttercup!” mentality, powering through workouts as best we can while our bodies scream out in general agony.

So what can you do if you have DOMS and you want to lessen the severity and duration of the soreness? The truth is, not much. However, here are some suggestions which you might want to try. Keep in mind that none of these suggestions is proven to ameliorate DOMS, but none will worsen the symptoms either.

• consumption of plenty of water both during and after exercise
• consumption of a protein-rich meal after exercise
• glutamine
• cherry juice
• vitamin D supplementation
• compression garments
• Epsom salts
• application of heat

One thing to bear in mind is that if you are consistently working out at the same intensity, your muscles will become familiar with that intensity, essentially adapting to it. This phenomenon is called the repeated bout effect (RBE), and basically means that you will most likely notice a drop-off in DOMS episodes. If you suddenly increase the intensity or duration of your workouts, the chance of developing DOMS will return.

Obviously if you believe you have a specific injury, and not DOMS, then get it evaluated and rest up.

Mizumura K, Taguchi T. Delayed onset muscle soreness: Involvement of neurotrophic factors. J Physiol Sci. 2016 Jan;66(1):43-52.

Sequential Compression Devices For Recovery

I’ve been using the Air Relax sequential compression device for a couple of months now, and have incorporated regular treatments into my post-workout regimen. Whenever I train legs (three days a week), I make sure to do a 15 minute treatment at some point during the day. For the most part, it feels fantastic, like a therapeutic massage, but every now and then, the leg sleeves will clamp down like vice grips on a strained area like my calf and inspire me to chant, “ow, ow, ow, owwww!” in quick succession. Despite these isolated moments of torture, I always feel better after the treatment is finished, and my limbs don’t feel as heavy or as cramped as they usually do post-lift.

There are two types of individuals who can benefit from using sequential compression devices. The first group consists of sedentary or bedridden patients who run the risk of developing deep venous thrombosis. The second group consists of athletes, ranging from weekend warriors to elite Olympians. The benefits of sequential compression include enhanced lymphatic drainage, improved blood circulation, enhanced mobilization of lactic acid and other waste products from muscle tissue, and a massage component which is rather pleasant.

If you decide to purchase a sequential compression system for home use, I heartily recommend the Air Relax version, because it is quite affordable for under $400 (versus $1,500 for one major competitor’s version), and it inflates to pressures over 200 mm Hg, qualifying it as a FDA 510K Class II cleared medical grade device.

Sponsored Kill Cliff Video on YouTube with Dr. Stacey Naito – Kill The Quit Campaign

Check out my video review of Kill Cliff Clean Recovery and Hydration formula!

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of KILL CLIFF. The opinions and text are all mine.


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Are Post-Workout Carbohydrates Necessary?

Please check out my latest article for Sports Nutrition Supplement Guide!

You can access the original post here:



If you have been lifting weights for a while, you have probably heard about the importance of ingesting simple carbohydrates during the critical post-workout window. The idea is that the insulin spike which occurs with carb consumption augments protein uptake and thus optimizes muscle building and repair.

However, there is a growing body of evidence which argues against this theory. One study which was published in Nutrition and Metabolism split older male subjects into two groups, one of which consumed only protein post-workout, while the other group consumed the identical amount of protein, with an added carbohydrate source in a 1 to 2 ratio. The subjects in the second group initially had an insulin spike and a greater uptake of protein into muscle tissue, but after several hours, both groups had the same uptake of protein.

Athletes who train several times a day may benefit from the faster rate of protein absorption which accompanies carbohydrate consumption during the post-workout window since they need to keep glycogen stores full for the next workout. However, the average person or athlete who only trains once per day will be able to replenish glycogen levels within a day or two, without any negative effects, as long as enough carbohydrates are consumed in the diet throughout each day. This is great news for individuals who cannot consume large amounts of simple carbohydrates, either due to diabetes or excess weight, because the overall absorption and uptake of protein is unaffected by carbohydrate intake.

Substances like whey protein induce an even bigger spike in insulin than carbs do, and the increase insulin levels from protein alone is adequate to inhibit the muscle breakdown which occurs post-lift. You might also consider employing a carb-cycle diet which consists of a low carb plan intermixed with one or two high carb days per week. The carb spike days will effectively replenish glycogen stores and keep your energy high for those intense lifting days, while the remaining lower carbohydrate days will boost growth hormone production.

REFERENCES: Hamer H, Wall B, Kiskini A, de Lange A, et al (2013) Carbohydrate co-ingestion with protein does not further augment post-prandial muscle protein accretion in older men. Nutrition & Metabolism 10:15.