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Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

We’ve all experienced muscle pain up to several days after exercise from Crossfit; it’s a normal response and there is an explanation! It is called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), which is a phenomenon that occurs 2-5 days after exercise from more eccentric (lengthening of the muscle) movements. DOMS occurs from small microscopic tears that occur to the muscle fibers. This is a normal response after exercise and can help build up muscle hypertrophy, increase stamina, and help with muscle recovery as you increase load/resistance.

Muscle pain or fatigue should go away after a few days, but if pain persists you should consult your local physical therapist (me!) There is controversial research to support the best treatment outcomes for dealing with DOMS. Most research suggests gentle stretching, ice and pain medication. In my opinion, soft tissue mobilization will help with realigning muscle fibers and break up adhesions in the tissue. Don’t dig into a sore muscle; you will probably just hurt it worse! Ice is good for pain in any case in the first day or two after injury. Gentle dynamic stretching and doing a WOD will help increase blood flow and oxygenation to the muscle tissue which can aide in healing. If you are really sore, you should have a NoCoast coach help substitute a movement, or modify your WOD, so that you don’t cause injury. When the muscles are already fatigue and healing, you are more prone to have poor co-contraction (muscles firing at the right time) and have an injury occur, especially if your lifting heavy load. Manual therapy, such as soft tissue massage can assist with fiber alignment, decrease edema, and increase blood flow as well. Kinesiotaping helps increase lymphatic flow and decrease pain signal to the brain through the concept of desensitization.

If you are ever unclear if your pain is DOMS, or a more serious injury, please feel free to contact me anytime and I will do an assessment & give recommendations! Keep up the hard work NoCoast athletes; hopefully your experience with DOMS will build a stronger mind and stronger body to maximize your functional potential. Mary is available for appointments at NoCoast. Contact

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