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So you just started working out.  Maybe this is your first time getting into fitness or maybe you’ve had a few weeks or months off.  You hit the ground running, and put in a really tough workout.  You feel great about your strong first session and are excited for your second.  But something strange starts to happen within the first 12-24 hours of your workout…you start to feel sore.  I would like to introduce you to DOMS!!!

DOMS – Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

This is the technical term you’re actually experiencing when the soreness starts to set in.  No, you won’t feel it during your first workout.  You feel it for the next one to three days with, in my experience, day two being the worst.  This is the kind of soreness where it can hurt to lift your arms, bend over, or even get up.  Here are a few symptoms of DOMS:

– your muscles are very tender to even the slightest touch;

– your range of motion is reduced as you feel stiff and pain with each movement;

– your muscles simply feel worn out and unusable;

– your strength weakens for a short period of time;

– and you may even experience some swelling in your muscles.

Why Is This Happening???

You thought you did great, and yes you did, so why are you being punished for working out?  This is because when you work out you tear little muscle fibers in your muscles, causing inflammation.  Don’t worry, you didn’t do anything wrong.  In order for a muscle to become stronger, you have to tear it down a bit.  After you tear it down, it repairs itself and comes back stronger.  Unfortunately, this initial tearing down can be quite painful as DOMS sets in.

Is This Because I’m New To Working Out?

No!!!  DOMS can affect everyone from the beginner to the elite athlete.  DOMS can occur anytime anyone performs a type of intense exercise that their body is not use to.  DOMS has bitten me many times, especially in my younger years as I would hit the gym hard, right out of the gate.  I remember when I started back at the gym while in college.  I was a madman that first day in the gym.  Well, I remember two days later when my girlfriend’s uncle noticed I was sore and started poking me in the arms with his finger.  He was laughing, but I was honestly getting mad.  It seriously hurt!!!

Do I Have DOMS Because Of A Great Workout?

Some people believe that the only way to show you had a good workout is if you’re really sore the next few days.  You know the old saying, “No pain, no gain.”  That’s not necessarily true.  DOMS can come on at first because you body hasn’t had time to adapt to the training.  But it will.  After a few workouts, your body will adapt and you won’t be as sore.  You may still have a little soreness, but the kind of soreness that says you worked out, not the kind that makes you want to stay in bed for two days.

The Takeaway

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is something everyone who works out will eventually experience.  It really seems to bite people, harder and more intensely, who are new to exercise or haven’t worked out in a long time.  But no one is immune to it.  It can bite everyone from the beginner to the elite athlete.  Expect to start feeling DOMS within the first 12-24 hours of the workout with it lasting up to three days, with day two being the most intense.

Next week, we’ll talk about how to treat DOMS and how to prevent it as much as possible.

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