Delayed-onset muscle soreness, or DOMS, describes the tight, sore muscles that show up a day or two after an intense weight-training session. According to exercise scientist Len Kravitz of the University of New Mexico, DOMS usually peaks within within 24 to 48 hours and resolves itself within 96 hours. (reference 4) Proactive treatment can ease your symptoms, but it will not necessarily speed your recovery.
Discontinue exercise and allow your sore muscles to rest. The American College of Sports Medicine warns that continuing to exercise with severe symptoms may make the pain worse. Refrain from exercising until your symptoms subside.
Apply ice to the affected region. Ice can help reduce inflammation and soothe damaged muscle tissue. A 2010 study performed at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse found that 30-minute ice treatments applied immediately after a workout -- and then repeated two, four, six, 24 and 48 hours later -- effectively minimized the perceived pain, although it didn't improve the muscle performance.
Seek massage or acupressure therapy. A review of literature published by the Australian Association of Massage Therapists and RMIT University supported massage and acupressure as effective treatments to ease DOMS symptoms.
Take over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, such as aspirin, ibuprofen and flurbiprofen for temporary pain relief. However, because of the negative side effects of gastrointestinal distress and elevated blood pressure -- along with non-conclusive evidence to support their effectiveness -- NSAIDs are not the optimal choices for treating DOMS.
- American College of Sports Medicine: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)
- Australian Association of Massage Therapists: The Effectiveness of Massage Therapy: A Summary of Evidence-Based Research
- Journal of the American Society of Nephrology: Rhabdomyolysis
- University of New Mexico: Treating and Preventing DOMS
- University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse Journal of Undergraduate Research: The Effectiveness of Cryotherapy in the Treatment of Exercise- Induced Muscle Soreness