11 Science-Backed Solutions To Reduce DOMS

11 Science-Backed Solutions To Reduce DOMS

Want to avoid being a walking zombie after a tough workout? Here are 11 scientifically proven methods to prevent and reduce DOMS.

Have you ever felt like a superhero after a workout, but then the next day it feels like you’ve been hit by a truck?

That’s called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS. It’s when your muscles feel sore and achy 24-72 hours after exercising.

But don’t worry, DOMS is actually a sign that you’ve done a great job at your workout. It means that you’ve pushed your muscles to their limit, and now they are rebuilding themselves to become even stronger than before.

However, if you want to avoid muscle soreness the next day, there are some home treatments that’ll help reduce DOMS.

The Main Causes Of DOMS

DOMS is a common occurrence when you start a new exercise program or increase the intensity of your workout.

Basically, when you challenge your muscles in new ways, it causes tiny tears in the muscle fibers, resulting in soreness and stiffness. So, if you’re trying out a new exercise, be prepared for some discomfort.

Exercises that really load your muscles in a lengthened position, like Romanian deadlifts, tend to increase your chances of experiencing DOMS.

But, don’t let that stop you from trying out new activities or pushing yourself in your workout!

The good news is that DOMS is just a temporary pain station on the road to a stronger you. As you continue to do the same activity, your muscles will adjust to the new movements and grow stronger.

This means that there will be less damage to your muscle fibers the next time you do the activity, resulting in less soreness and quicker recovery time.

How To Reduce DOMS

While there’s no surefire way to prevent DOMS, you can reduce its severity by easing into new activities or gradually increasing the intensity of your workouts.

Stretching after exercise can help prevent injuries, but unfortunately, it won’t guarantee that you won’t experience DOMS.

But, fear not! There are ways to treat the discomfort. Let’s check them out!

1. Tart Cherries

Let’s start our list with something sweet, like tart cherry juice. This can be a real solution to your muscle soreness.

Tart cherries are more than just a tasty fruit, they also have the potential to reduce muscle soreness and improve muscle recovery and function.

According to research published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, consuming tart cherry juice five days before, on the day of, and 48 hours following a marathon can provide these benefits.

This is due to the presence of anthocyanins, colorful antioxidant compounds that help to decrease inflammation.

While good nutrition is usually sufficient for antioxidants, incorporating tart cherries into your diet can give you an extra boost.

Consuming a couple of servings per week is recommended for typical training, but for marathon training, switching to a once-daily plan can be beneficial.

If you don’t like cherries, red raspberries are a good alternative source of anthocyanins.

So, consider adding some tart cherries or red raspberries to your diet for improved muscle recovery and function.

2. Compression Clothing

Does compression clothing really help with DOMS? While the evidence is inconclusive, there are some potential benefits.

It may reduce inflammation, resulting in less muscle soreness, and increase blood flow to the muscles, which can reduce the buildup of creatine kinase.

So, it may be worth giving compression clothing a try to see if it helps you recover faster.

3. Move More

Moving your muscles may sound counterintuitive when you’re feeling sore, but it’s actually the best way to speed up recovery.

When you exercise, you increase blood flow to your muscles, and by doing some light activity the day after, you’re actually helping your body recover faster.

Moving and stretching your muscles throughout the day, before and after your workout can also help. Don’t worry if your range of motion is smaller than usual due to soreness – it’s normal.

And if you want to add some variety to your recovery routine, consider trying yoga to help fight off DOMS and elongate your muscles.

4. Foam Rolling

Foam rolling is a great way to give yourself a mini massage after a tough workout. When your muscles are repairing themselves, they can get knotted up, making them feel tight and sore.

Rolling out your muscles on a foam roller can help loosen up these knots, increase muscle elasticity, and reduce the pain and stiffness of DOMS.

So, grab a foam roller and roll out like a pro!

5. Eating The Right Foods

Eating the right foods after a workout can help your muscles recover faster and reduce soreness.

There are three types of foods that are particularly beneficial for DOMS:

  1. Carbohydrates: These produce insulin, which drives muscle growth and helps refuel your energy supplies.
  2. Protein: Essential for muscle growth, maintenance, and repair. After a workout, protein helps repair broken-down muscle fibers and reduce soreness.
  3. Antioxidants: Found in foods like berries and cherries, they reduce inflammation and soreness.

Remember to stay hydrated too! So, eat up and drink water, and let those muscles recover faster.

6. Epsom Salt Baths

Taking a warm bath with Epsom salts can help reduce the symptoms of DOMS.

Epsom salt is a type of magnesium sulfate that can be absorbed through the skin, which may help relax muscles and alleviate pain.

When you soak in a warm bath with Epsom salts, the warm water can help increase blood flow and circulation, while the magnesium in the Epsom salts can help reduce inflammation and promote muscle relaxation.

7. Pain Relief Balms

Get ready to feel cool as a cucumber because pain relief balms are here to save the day! Balms like Deep Heat or Tiger Balm can actually help relieve soreness and reduce pain.

The secret weapon in these balms is menthol, which provides a cooling sensation on the skin.

The menthol interacts with calcium ions in your neurons that sense temperature, resulting in a decreased brain/pain connection in that area.

So, if you’re feeling the burn from DOMS, try rubbing on some pain relief balm and enjoy the chill!

8. Massages

If you’re looking for a way to alleviate muscle soreness, getting a massage might be the way to go.

A 2020 study conducted by the University of Sheffield found that “massage provides a small benefit in reducing or preventing DOMS“.

And let’s be honest, massages just feel amazing. There’s something about the combination of pressure, kneading, and soothing music that makes us feel like we’re in heaven.

Not to mention, it’s a great excuse to treat yourself to a little self-care.

If you’re new to the world of massage, it’s important to note that it’s not a one-time fix for sore muscles. Regular massage can help improve blood flow, reduce inflammation, and increase the range of motion, leading to better overall muscle health.

So, if you’re serious about taking care of your body and preventing soreness in the future, it might be worth considering adding massages to your self-care routine.

9. Hot And Cold Therapy

Hot/cold showers and ice baths may sound like torture, but they can actually be a helpful way to ease DOMS without breaking the bank.

Hot water causes your blood vessels to dilate, allowing more blood to flow to your muscles.

On the other hand, cold water constricts your blood vessels, pushing blood away from your muscles.

By alternating between hot and cold water (known as contrast bath hydrotherapy), you can increase blood flow to your muscles and speed up the delivery of nutrients, aiding in recovery.

So go ahead, take the plunge, and treat yourself to a hot/cold shower or ice bath.

10. BCAA Supplements

BCAA supplements can’t cure DOMS, but they can reduce soreness and help with the pain.

Amino acids are essential for muscle repair and growth, and BCAA supplements provide leucine, isoleucine, and valine – important amino acids for muscle tissue repair.

They help repair microscopic torn muscle fibers and prevent muscle breakdown.

11. Coffee Before Working Out

Sipping coffee before your workout can be a game-changer in reducing muscle soreness and fatigue.

According to several studies, caffeine can have analgesic effects, which means it can act as a painkiller.

In fact, a study published in the Journal of Pain found that pre-workout caffeine consumption led to a 48% decrease in DOMS.

So, if you’re planning a tough workout, try drinking two cups of coffee about an hour beforehand.

Let’s be honest, coffee just makes everything better, doesn’t it?

The Takeaway

Before looking for ways to reduce DOMS, make sure you warm up properly before exercising. This will get your blood flowing and prepare your muscles for the workout ahead.

Also, don’t forget to stretch after your workout, as this can help to alleviate any tension in your muscles.

But sometimes, muscle soreness is just unavoidable, especially if you’re trying a new activity or pushing yourself harder than usual. In that case, it’s good to have at hand this list of the best ways to reduce DOMS.

The next time you feel the burn, embrace the discomfort knowing that you’re on your way to becoming stronger and fitter.

And hey, if you need an excuse to take a day off from the gym, blame it on DOMS!

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