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Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness: What is it and how can Osteopathy help?

Delayed onset muscle soreness, also known as DOMS is the discomfort and pain experienced in the muscles several hours to a day or two after strenuous activity; From endurance running, swimming, lifting too many heavy plants to and from the garden, triathlons, too much surfing, an extra long walk - you name the activity and DOMS can eventuate! Many athletes may even be experiencing this after the Coolangatta Gold!

DOMS are different from immediate muscle soreness after an activity. They are usually due to muscle fatigue, a build-up of lactic acid, and microscopic damage to muscle fibres or connective tissues that may have not been used to this extent in a while.

I normally experience DOMS after learning new exercises at the gym or trying out my grandfather’s kayak on the lake.


What do I do to help?

​Rest & Recover

​Ensuring the appropriate rest and recovery time between intense exercise is essential to muscle recovery. Getting enough sleep, hydration and nutrients (such as protein) to aid in muscle recovery can also be beneficial.

​Stretch & Warm-up

​Dynamic stretching (leg swings, calf pumps, lunges etc.) can help muscles to warm up before going through an intense activity.

​Osteopathy / Manual Therapy

​While Osteopathy does not directly prevent or cure DOMS, it may assist in management and reduce discomfort by addressing factors that contribute to DOMS. Soft tissue massage and joint mobilisation may assist in relieving muscle tension and soreness by encouraging circulation and blood flow to the affected muscle or area.

Manual Lymphatic Drainage​

​Lymphatic drainage may encourage a reduction in swelling and inflammation. A gentle hands-on technique is applied to encourage the lymphatic system to remove excess fluids and waste (lactic acid) that is seen with DOMS.

​Education and Advice

​Talk to a practitioner about exercises and advice on warm-up or cool-down techniques, as well as lifestyle modifications to assist in the prevention and management of DOMS.

Are DOMS normal?

DOMS may be painful, however, it is a sign that your body is adapting and becoming stronger. DOMS are a common, natural aspect of physical training or exercise. Understanding why it occurs and how to manage it can help you progress toward your fitness goals and minimise discomfort at the same time. Remember: Some level of soreness is normal and okay, but it should never be so severe that it affects your activities of daily living or stops you from doing things you love or are passionate about.

Need help with managing a sporting-related issue or injury? Book an Osteopathy Appointment with our friendly team, who are always here to help!

For more information about DOMS please use the following links;

Written by our Student Osteopath, Georgia!


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