I just got an email from yet another client who is experiencing DOMS, and is a little confused as to why he is so sore, when he didn’t feel like he was really working that hard.
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness is the type of muscle soreness that sets in usually 24-36 hours after your training session, and it can last as long as 7 or 8 days depending on the severity.
Many trainees as they progress their workouts associate DOMS with workouts in which they are really pushing themselves to the limits. In these cases the DOMS occurs because they have passed a certain threshold for work capacity or muscle tension that has caused the DOMS. They have basically given a stimulus to the muscle that it isn’t used to.
In my clients case today, he was surprised because he had felt DOMS on a number of occasions previously after some pretty tough leg training sessions that I put him through. However in this case, he didn’t feel like he had worked that hard that he would be feeling so sore.
What led to the DOMS in this case was that although he was only lifting about 80% of the weight lifted in the previous few workouts, he had missed about ten days of training, which reduces the threshold at which DOMS is achieved.
So even though it felt a little easier than the previous workout, relatively to his muscles there was a greater stress.
DOMS is not something to be overly concerned with unless it interferes with your day to day activities. In most cases recovery is spontaneous, but ice, soft tissue work, sufficient calories, and lots of sleep can help speed the recovery.
Many people believe that they will not progress with their training unless they feel DOMS after their workouts. While anecdotally this has been reported, there is very little research to back up this theory. Those who train hard enough to feel DOMS, may progress in their training despite the DOMS, not because of it. If you are a drug free athlete, and you are trying to build muscle, if you can only train a bodypart once every seven or eight days because of DOMS, you will not likely progress as quickly as you could with a higher training frequency.
There’s always more to write, but I’ll leave it here for now.
Hope this clears up any confusion surrounding DOMS!