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What Is DOMS And How To Get Rid Of Sore Muscles? 12 Pro Tips.

Introduction: 

Muscle soreness is not just for newbies, even pro athletes experience muscle soreness after intense training sessions. 

While some people hate the muscle soreness, others consider it a prize medal of a good workout. 

Not all the post-workout muscle pains are equal, while some of them last for only 24-48 hours, others might require the doctor’s diagnosis. 

Stay with us and we are going to discuss a dozen tips on how to get rid of sore muscles. 


What is DOMS?

Before we hop on the pro-tips to get rid of muscle pain and soreness its essential to understand the DOMS and its causes. 

The most common and significant muscle soreness occurs after some intense physical activity is referred to as DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness).

While many people think DOMS occurs due to the excess buildup of lactic acid within the muscle tissues but it’s not certainly true. DOMS is caused because of the micro-tears in the muscles which leads to inflammation, swelling, and stiffness. This pain typically lasts for two days.  

Visible symptoms of DOMS are as follow:

  • Reduced range of motion because of the stiffness
  • Swelling within the muscle
  • Muscle fatigue and depletion of strength
  • Feels tender to touch.

While most of the experienced athletes are very used to DOMS, but it can be pretty frustrating and painful for the newbies. 

How long does it take to relieve soreness?

DOMS is not permanent in nature and the pain will subside after 2-3 days (actually depends on the intensity of micro-tears in muscles).

DOMS is ought to happen if you are training for muscle growth and strength. 

As you allow your body to get habitual to progressive resistance training, these symptoms will also diminish. 


How to get rid of sore muscles :

As we discussed, post-workout soreness may happen to anyone, It can be an elite athlete, pro bodybuilder or a total newbie. You can always reduce the pain with the right strategies and supplements. 

Following the right recovery and restoration tips can help in minimizing the soreness window. Fast DOMS recovery can be achieved by three basic elements: 

  • Food and Supplementations
  • Therapies
  • Right Strategies 

Food and Supplementations

EPSOM salt bath

Epsom salt bath is popularly known for relieving stress and its calming properties. On top of everything, it’s affordable and has almost no side effects. 

EPSOM salt is also known as magnesium sulfate. Magnesium can be easily absorbed through the skin and can serve its purpose. Magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals in the body and it assists in more than 325 biochemical reactions within the body. 

Although, the effectiveness of EPSOM salt is not backed by scientific research but it is proven to reduce swelling and muscle cramps (1). 

It has been used to reduce muscle and joint pain for centuries and its also known for its benefits for curing moderate insomnia (2). 

Instead of wondering about its effectiveness, the best approach is to order a bag of Epsom salt and try it on your own. It has got no side-effects if used within a recommended serving. 

Protein

Proteins are the building block of your muscle fibers and muscles need it desperately after getting those micro-tears. 

Either you can get the required amount of nutrition through whole food or you can opt for the protein shakes. 

Protein shakes are designed specifically to fulfill the body’s needs of post-workout nutrition and it helps in improving protein synthesis. 

Your body needs 20 types of amino acids for fast recovery and these protein supplements are fortified with all the required nutrients.

Drinking post-workout protein shakes is not just a bro-science, a study suggested the benefits of protein shakes in better muscle hypertrophy, recovery and strength development. 

In short, Protein drinks will help in muscle repair and restoring the depleted energy. 

Electrolytes

Up to 60 percent of the human body is made up of water, it’s one of the most essential elements your body needs. The body needs calcium to flex your muscles and it requires magnesium to relax the same muscle. 

When you sweat due to intense physical activity your body loses essential minerals with the water content. In other words, dehydration can make DOMS more painful and long-lasting. Electrolyte salts not just help in regulating the essential vitamins and minerals, it also helps in retaining the lost water and hydration process

Hydration allows the body to lower the inflammation by better blood circulation as well as internal temperature regulation. Some of the reasons which make electrolytes helpful for curing muscle pain are as follow:

  • Electrolytes energize your muscles: your muscles require certain balance of certain vitamins and minerals for the optimum performance. It keeps the muscle cells well hydrated and maintains the healthy PH level of muscle as well. 
  • Helps in easing joint pain: do you experience joint pain after an exhaustive workout session? It might be because of the dehydration. Supplementing with electrolytic salts may help in easing post-workout joint pain. 
  • Regulating PH levels: The muscle building process leads to lactic buildup around the muscle tissues which disturbs the PH level of the body. Taking multi-mineral dietary electrolytes helps in regulating PH levels through clearing toxin buildup within the muscle cells. 

Antioxidants (juice it up) 

Antioxidants are proven to have many health benefits, they are found to be heavily beneficial for relieving muscle soreness because of their anti-inflammatory properties. 

Antioxidants help in clearing the lactic buildup and other byproducts produced after heavy resistance training. If you are not a big fan of supplementation then you can get the required dose of antioxidants through certain food items. Here is the list of food juices that helps to get rid of sore muscle and inflammation. 

  • Tart Cherry Juice: Cherries are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that help in eliminating soreness. \
  • Blueberries: another berry that is known for its highly rich anti-oxidants. A study proves the effectiveness of blueberries in relieving pain and improves performance. 
  • Pomegranate juice: It contains three times more antioxidants than green tea. It also contains nitric oxide that improves blood flow and delivers nutrients throughout the body. 

These are the few most effective antioxidants, you can try other anti-inflammatory food like Curcuminm, almonds, cashews, spinach, beans, etc.   


Therapies

Enough talked about dietary food supplements, let’s talk about some therapies that will help you experience instant relief from muscle soreness.  

Massage gun

Modern-day problems require a modern solution. These days people are not really accustomed to physical workouts which leads to frequent pain. 

Massage guns are state of the art devices that helps relax muscle stiffness and soreness. Massage gun is a therapeutic gun designed to relieve pain in a multidimensional way.

Massage gun benefits and how it works:
  1. Loosen tight muscles: with the perfect combination of power performance and variability.
  2. Increases blood flow: Its continuous muscle stimulation helps in improving blood and lymphatic flow. These massage guns clear out the muscle spasm for faster recovery. 
  3. Clears lactic buildup: We talked about muscle hydration and PH levels. A massage gun helps in removing lactic buildup and repairs scar tissues that act as main hurdles for recovery. 
  4. Portable AF: it’s a one-time investment that can save tens of physio visits. It’s portable, you can carry it at the gym or a vacation. Its speed setting allows you to enjoy variable speed for different target areas. 

TENS and EMS machine

The TENS + EMS has been changing the way people get all-natural pain relief and muscle conditioning in one portable device. It’s the same machine that Physiotherapist use to help you recover fast after an injury. 

TENS stands for “Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation” and EMS stands for “Electrical muscle stimulation”. Portable TENS and EMS units deliver low voltage electrical pulses to stimulate muscle and nerves. 

How they work and benefits: 
  • It’s a drug-free natural pain relief solution for every need. Whether you are suffering from arthritis pain or got an acute injury, these machines are perfect to relieve pain and assist in muscle strengthening. 
  • TENS electric pulses stimulate the natural production of endorphins, it’s a hormone that acts as a natural pain killer.
  • Disrupts the pain signal to the brain through retraining your nerves. This disruption in pain signal leads to lesser pain over a period of time. TENS machine are especially helpful for people suffering from prolonged pain. 
  • Electrical muscle stimulator (EMS) assists in muscle stimulation to get rid of spasm and lactic acid. 
  • EMS also helps in strengthening the injured tissue for the accelerated recovery process. 

A simple unit is doing so much for muscle recovery and strengthening. 

I will try to cover a separate article on best EMS and TENS portable devices available in the market. 

Red Light therapy

It’s a bit controversial light therapy that is not so common. Red light therapy uses a low-level wavelength of light to promote skin health, muscle recovery and other issues. It was first introduced in the 1990s when scientists used it to grow plants in space. 

Red light is believed to stimulate a biochemical reaction in cells that strengthens the mitochondria.

Here are some benefits of red light therapy:
  • Better energy production on mitochondrial level elevates muscle recovery and peak performance [3]
  • Accelerates the wound healing process [4]
  • Not just wound healing, RLT also reduces joint inflammation [5]
  • Improves testosterone levels and serum quality [6]

Deep tissue massage

Might be little costly for many people but its an ultimate solution for muscle relaxation and recovery. 

Deep tissue massage can’t be done by own, it requires specialist knowledge to do it in the right way. 

A trigger-point or sports massage will help to relax very tight sore muscles and soothe muscle aches.


Strategies

So enough talked about supplements and therapies, there are some strategies that can assist in lowering the pain and speed up the recovery process.  

Hot water bath

A hot water bath is the best way to relieve tension from stressed muscles. A hot water bath will loosen the tight muscles and improves blood circulation to allow temporary pain relief. 

Adding EPSOM salt in your hot water bath can do wonders for the recovery process.

Stretches

Sometimes you experience stiffness in muscle tissues because of the spasm and lactic buildup. 

10-15 minutes of stretching just after the workout session can act as a game-changer in lowering down the pain and better recovery. 

If you still experience muscle pain the next day then it’s recommended doing some eccentric exercises for the effective muscle groups to lengthen the muscles. 

Foam roller can take your stretching to another level, it will help you achieve better stretches. 

Continue to do warm-up activities

Rest is important for the fast recovery from DOMS but that doesn’t require you to stay in bed for the whole day. 

If you want to fast track your recovery process then try to do some warm-up multiple times a day. Warm-up activities on a regular interval can help in strengthening the affected muscle and improves blood circulation. 

So is your legs are in pain after legs workout then try to go on long walks at least 2 times a day, it will be a little painful initially but the pain will subside. 

If you are having a sore back then try to hang on pull up bar for 30 seconds for multiple times a day. 

Rest

Apart from some sweet workup session, stay away from the intense workout for 2-3 days, keep your activities at low intensity until you get the same mobility and strength. 

Ice pack

If you are experiencing joint pain or muscle soreness then Ice pack can help, wrapping ice-pack on an affected area can bring down the swelling and can help you ease the pain and tenderness. 


How Can I Prevent DOMS?

It’s important to remember that DOMS can happen to anyone, its common with 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.

Plus, consistently experiencing DOMS will probably lead to reduced performance and a higher risk of injuries. You don’t really need to go through DOMS discomfort in order to get bigger and stronger.

Following some DOMS preventive measures after an intense workout is going to be a game-changer for you. Here is how to prevent DOMS.

  • Always pre-prepare your muscle and connective tissues for the upcoming intense work. 10-15 minutes of warmup and cool-down period works very effectively to dodge injuries and serious muscle pain.
  • Mixing some electrolytic salts with workout hydration kit can help in reducing muscle cramps and soreness.
  • Every professional athlete spends lot of time in post-workout stretching. Foam rolling and some yoga work can help in easing stress.
  • Intra-workout BCAA’s (Branched Chain Amino Acids) are proven to improve workout performance and muscle soreness.
  • Opt for Workout enhancing gels, these are the thermogenic gel that is developed to improve performance through improved blood flow and clearing of lactic buildup. I personally recommend it to all of my clients for better muscle activation and reduced soreness.
  • Hot tub bath for 15 minutes can help in relieving muscle soreness.

When to See a Doctor

Not all the soreness is same, here is how to distinguish the COMS with other soreness:

Acute muscle soreness happens just after the workout, while delayed onset muscle soreness is often felt on the next day or after a good restful sleep. 

If you are experiencing soreness and visible swelling just after the workout then you should be consulting a professional before the injury worsen.