How to prevent Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness? (DOMS)
January 12, 2014 9:44 AM   Subscribe

I am rehabbing my hamstring from injury and after a hard day of rehab I am sore for about 4 days after. What steps can I take (before or after working out) to lessen the intensity and or duration of DOMS? And scientific data to back it up? I do ice baths immediately after exercise, and I re hydrate as much as possible during and after workout. I have a foam roller, I don't use it because any evidence of it helping has been anecdotal. Will it help? How about a lacrosse ball? Thanks.
posted by crawltopslow to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Epsom salts bath. Day of and next day.
posted by windykites at 9:46 AM on January 12, 2014

Sorry- didn't see the "scientific data" part. Epsom salts baths will speed up your body's metabolism of lactic acid, which is what causes DOMS. We tend to explain it as saying that it "draws out toxins", but that's not really accurate- it's just an easy soundbite. I saw a great paper about this which I'll try to find for you. But basically, the bottom line is "do it".
posted by windykites at 9:52 AM on January 12, 2014

Have you gotten any massage?
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 11:35 AM on January 12, 2014

I have gotten sports massage that was supposed to make it better, preformed by my therapist who helps me do my rehabilitation. Maybe it was better overall for my body or my injury somehow, but kneading deeply pressure points and trigger points and stuff only made my soreness increase the next day.
posted by crawltopslow at 11:39 AM on January 12, 2014

Compression pants have worked wonders for me, worn overnight after exercise.
posted by matty at 12:54 PM on January 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Thanks matty! ordering now!
posted by crawltopslow at 1:04 PM on January 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Exercising more during the days when you're at the peak of DOMS will significantly improve the DOMS and eventually significantly lessen the soreness you feel with each workout. People tend to struggle with persistent DOMS for a long time (months, even) because they rest between workouts until the soreness is gone -- this is a bad idea. Working out through soreness (as long as it is soreness and not pain) is good.
posted by telegraph at 1:15 PM on January 12, 2014 [4 favorites]

What's your nutrition like? I found eating plenty of protein made a big difference to my DOMS following exercise. No science to back that up, other than my own experience! Also cod liver oil never hurts...
posted by prentiz at 2:59 PM on January 12, 2014

Seconding the compression pant, although I've never thought to wear them after. I used to suffer a lot from DOMS while training for an endurance event but have had none at all since wearing them while training.
posted by dg at 3:12 PM on January 12, 2014

My experience accords with telegraph's. Sorry, I can't help with science as I have no idea myself. But I've only discovered recently that, counterintuitively, the only cure for my DOMS is not to have a rest day, but to go back to the gym and do exactly what gave me the DOMS again.

posted by Salamander at 3:12 PM on January 12, 2014

One of the problems that you'll run into is that any studies that you find might not actually be that helpful. Everyone is an individual and people react differently to different things. Even if you had a study that said that foam rollers help reduce DOMS in 99 out of 100 people, you might be the 1 in a hundred that it doesn't help.

There are few things that work for everybody. Lightly working out the muscles that hurt is one of them.

I also found that when I started doing serious strength training, my DOMS got a lot less severe after about a month.
posted by VTX at 3:23 PM on January 12, 2014

Have you tried ibuprofen? It does help.
I think that foam rolling is awesome, but you should do it before you do your rehab, not just after. It helps to loosen up the muscles and improve the blood flow. Also, as was mentioned above, you need to exercise more in-between sessions, again, to improve the blood flow and help speed up recovery. FWIW, I don't think a lacrosse ball will help with this as it doesn't sound like it's a myofascial issue.
posted by ch1x0r at 5:38 PM on January 12, 2014

Here's a summary of the literature on DOMS.
posted by oceano at 6:25 PM on January 12, 2014

As noted in oceano's link, the current thinking on DOMS focuses on muscle damage (microscopic tears) as the main culprit as opposed to lactic acid buildup. Many of the above suggestions should help with managing the pain and inflammation caused by the damage.

One more thing you may want to try is to help repair the damage as quickly as possible. A post-workout recovery supplement could be worth a try. Whey protein supplement drinks may help. Soy based products are also available if you are vegan or lactose intolerant.

In my own personal experience, I have noticed a big reduction in soreness after heavy workouts when I take my whey protein right after the workout. I used to start aching quite a bit about 24 hours after a workout, and it could last for 2 days after that. With the supplement, I have much less soreness, and it rarely lasts beyond that first day. There are a lot of products to choose from, from very cheap to very pricey. The Target brand isn't bad, if you're in the US.
posted by gimli at 7:04 AM on January 13, 2014

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