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Sore Muscles?

How to prevent and recover from DOMS

You made it to gym. Getting there is the hardest part. Congrats! You got there, music was on full-blast and you got a solid workout in. Almost too good of a workout…meaning you are definitely feeling it, that burn we all know and love. The type of feeling where it hurts to sit down, generally just hurts to move. Day 2 in a row of working out is just not happening. In this case, I like to call this a case of DOMS – Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.  This type of soreness and pain can last several hours up to a couple of days. A lot of the time this comes from unaccustomed or strenuous exercise. I know this from experience and it’s not fun. Didn’t go to a bootcamp class for a month? Good luck, my friend – DOMS is coming in strong…

Some aches and pains are good for you, that means you are pushing yourself harder than normal. However, not physically being able to move means you’re straining your body too much or doing too much too soon. How do you prevent DOMS? Let’s find out with these 5 tips.

Warm Up

I cannot stress how important it is to get your body moving before a hardcore workout…or any workout for that matter. It is fundamental to be successful for a great workout. It gets your muscles ready for activity and decreases risk of injury. Suggestions for this include: 10-minute walk or run on the treadmill to get your heart going, foam roll and stretches. Warm up period is typically 5-10 minutes long. 

Progress Slowly

If you’re new to working out, it’s important to remember to start slow. Example: new to a bootcamp class or HIIT? You may find yourself slower or not lifting the same amount of weight than someone who has been to 5 classes. Don’t sweat it. Getting better and advancing your workout is all about baby steps and moving forward. If you were bicep-curling 5 pounds last week, don’t jump to 20 pounds this week. Increase your weights or mileage or time working out slowly and in small increments, so you are not overtraining them.

Cool Down

Ok – you have wrapped up your workout. Make sure to take 5-10 minutes to cool down and stretch. Your heart rate, body temperature and breath have increased throughout your workout. You need to take the time to ensure they all come back to a normal level. Be sure to stretch out major muscles that were used in your workout and walk on the treadmill for 5 minutes. 

Refuel Your Body

Proper nutrition after a workout is key to help build and repair muscles and prevent soreness. Eat something delicious within 30 minutes of finishing your workout and look for something with a 3:1 or 4:1 carb to protein ratio, like an apple with nut butter or a fruit smoothie with a small scoop of protein powder. 

Ice Ice Baby

A lot of people talk about how amazing cold showers or alternating hot and cold post-workout. Cold showers can definitely be uncomfortable – however, it could be worth it to see how you feel. Take a cold shower immediately after your workout to reduce inflammation of the muscles. Or try and ice bath, which has been shown to reduce muscle soreness by 20%. 

Start Foam Rolling

Invest in a foam roller. This is a game changer. If you start to include foam rolling in your daily routine, you will see a huge difference. Don’t foam roll if it hurts so much you’re cringing and can’t breathe properly. Do it when you have no pain and see if it helps. There are many YouTube tutorials from professionals that will teach you how to use a a foam roller.


Make sure you are getting an adequate amount of sleep – 7-8 hours is great! Put your phone or computer away to avoid distractions. Get your mind off work or school by picking up some light reading **not work or school related** to get your brain to relax. With healthy sleeping habits, this will help you to recover faster. 

I can’t promise that you will never experience DOMS, you likely will once in your life. I won’t lie, it’s a nightmare. However, if you follow these tips and tricks you can avoid it as much as possible. 

Happy working out! 

Melissa DaCosta

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