Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is an issue that commonly kicks in approximately six hours immediately following exercise and peaks within two days.

Woman with strong Muscles

Individuals that suffer from DOMS will experience variation in their experience, based on general health, type of exercise, and the intensity of the exercise performed.

Delayed onset muscle soreness may occur at any location within the body; however, it generally impacts the regions that have been exposed to physical activity that was intense or unfamiliar.

To enjoy the glow of good health, you must exercise….”Gene Tunney

The Cause

While the exact cause of DOMS has yet to be made official. The theory is that it stems from a direct result of inflammation that occurs when microscopic tears occur within the connective tissue of the body.

The elements of these tissues cause a heightened sensitivity in the nociceptors of the body. As a result, the overall sensation of pain and discomfort is heightened.

In short, delayed onset muscle soreness is a type of microtrauma that detrimentally impacts the connective tissue.

The Symptoms

In most instances, individuals that develop delayed onset muscle soreness will complain of a dull ache within a day or two of performing the physical activity.

The activity is most often new or strenuous.

The pain is always localized to the area impacted.

Not only does the area hurt, but, it becomes tender and stiff. Additionally, many find that they lose muscle strength on a short-term basis, experience a reduction in range of motion, and swelling.

True enjoyment comes from activity of the mind and exercise of the body; the two are ever united….”Wilhelm Von Humboldt

Deep tissue massage can help Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness


The treatment for delayed onset muscle soreness initiates with rest and measures that surround reducing inflammation.

Examples may include – but, are not at all limited to – utilizing cold packs, administering products such as Bio Freeze, using a foam roller device, and/or a roller massager.

Many may utilize NSAIDS, but this measure has been found to be counterproductive in the process of cell healing within the body. Natural treatment measures are recommended to alleviate discomfort as they are productive in healing.

Many find that the use of physical therapy is beneficial in recovering from delayed onset muscle soreness. Any type of aggressive exercise should be avoided; however, cycling, gentle stretches, and similar activity are productive exercises. When one is suffering from delayed onset muscle soreness, the muscles have a lower capacity in terms of shock absorption, recruitment patterns, strength, engaging in intense contractions, and balance.


To avoid the onset of DOMS, one should take it slowly when starting new exercises and work their way up to a more intense workout.

Reps, sets, and even weights should never be increased in excess of 10% each week. Naturally, a complete warm-up and cool-down should be performed before and after each exercise session.

If running is a regular activity, quadriceps training should always be integrated into the workout regimen. In most instances, individuals successfully recover from delayed onset muscle soreness. The resolution time averages about 3-4 days.

Should your recovery take longer, contact us, Back to Motion Physical Therapy Denver immediately.


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