Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) – how to minimize and treat?

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    I can get serious DOMS after a hard workout, often starting in my sleep the first night after a workout, in which case the muscle aches lead to a poor night of sleep and sometimes lasting for days. (I’m 50+ so there’s that!) Seems to be most severe after weight training, but can also get it after cycling and running.

    Epsom Salt hot baths before bed are nice and comforting, but I still get DOMS. DOMS definitely impacts my mental fortitude and physical strength in the next day’s workout, and sometimes for multiple days. And assuming I’m only partially through a training week when the DOMS starts, it seems like the DOMS triggered from multiple days might stack up.

    I have a HyperIce HyperVolt and massage the areas periodically – maybe I don’t do this until I feel sore and maybe it would improve things if I did it prophylactically, shortly after the workout? And it’s not part of my regular daily regimen, used more when the muscles ache.

    Other than:
    -reducing my training load (rather not),
    -consistent training week over week matching training plan (check),
    -getting lots of sleep (which I generally do now),
    -drinking lots of fluids (check),
    -epsom salt baths (check),
    -eating a varied and nutritious diet with protein (check – although I am predominantly vegetarian currently),
    -taking vitamin supplements (multivitamin, magnesium, Vitamin D, Omega 3, cordyceps CS-4 check),

    what would help reduce DOMS?


    Hi Tedc,

    It’s always helpful to have good lifestyle habits for athletic performance and recovery, sounds like you are covering these.

    Multiple treatments are advocated for DOMS (with varying success). The severity of damage and your response need to be taken into consideration. Anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen and icing offer the best relief of symptoms though carry potential side effects and inherent disruption of the natural healing process and adaptations.

    Instead of treating the outcome (DOMS), gradually adapt your muscles to stressful and novel exercise/workouts. Preventing DOMS occurring is the best strategy. Tapering your training around this feedback you are getting from your body will also allow more consistent and enjoyable training.



    One other thing to consider: check your body water percentage.

    I had a similar problem, and even considered reducing some of the harder workouts. Mobility and foam rolling didn’t work. It didn’t make sense; the 80/20 plans are designed to manage workloads.

    My body water percentage was slightly below 60%, OK for a non-athletic male, but I read that athletes should be as much as 5% higher than the general population.

    Over time I raised my average percentage to slightly over 62% through a combination of careful hydration and the addition of a nutritional electrolyte to my daily diet (drinking more water without the electrolytes did not improve my body water percentage).

    No more aches and pains.


    That’s interesting… Thanks Charles. A couple of questions… How dod you determine your body water percentage? Will a Withings smart scale be accurate (enough)? And what do you use for nutritional electrolytes? When I am doing intense training I have gone through periods of taking SaltStick Fast Chews. Other times I have done Nuun. I’d love any guidance.


    I use a Garmin impedance scale with Garmin Connect. I can’t say that is accurate to a laboratory standard, I’m sure it is not. But I do hop onto the scale every morning upon awaking so I have a record of changes. I have been doing so for about four years now and have a good history of my body composition changes.

    There is no question in my mind that the addition of electrolytes improved my water balance and performance based on the evidence I collected. I use the First Endurance EFS. Other products may work for you (if hydration is your limiting factor).

    Don’t overlook Dr. Gregg’s comments. In my own lessons learned I have also found that I need to take more care to build a mileage base BEFORE entering into the 80/20 training plans. I didn’t in my current training segment, and while I haven’t experienced DOMS, my fatigue has been unusually high. I think that being under prepared in the past is what ultimately revealed my water balance issues.


    Ramping up your training more gradually can really help. There are also some things you can do post-workout that will help. Once I got into the 20 mile run territory, it was rough. The soreness was unbearable. So after a run that I knew would be tough to recover from, I started doing the following:

    1. Going right to the gym and riding the stationary bike. No resistance and high turnover. Maybe 20-30 minutes. Not a hard workout at all, but enough to work out some of the soreness.
    2. Contrast shower. Alternating hot and cold water on the affected areas. Normally 1 minute hot and 30 seconds cold, several times, ending on hot.
    3. I would also wear compression from my calves up to my quads, for the rest of the day.

    All of this made a big difference in that it would reduce the level of soreness and expedite the recover process. Anyway, I hope this helps.


    Thanks for these responses. No one has yet mentioned NormaTec compression boots… the marketing is everywhere, but I still don’t have a verdict. I tried it a couple of times. It’s relaxing to just be forced to sit there while “massage” is happening, but I don’t know if it’s really impactful. For me, in my lower body, but glutes get the sorest of all muscles during the week, from dead lifts, step ups, RDLs, etc. While NormaTec does have a hip attachment, it just doesn’t seem like deep tissue massage to have an impact on thick muscles like glutes. And above the waist line, they have arm sleeves but it’s not a solution if my back, chest or neck are sore from training. Would be great if NormaTec was a solution to minimize my DOMS, but not so sure it would be.

    Anyone have thoughts?


    I’m in the find the cause camp…

    There is a poster at the gym where I train that is positioned directly in front of the treadmills that I use. It reads “If it hurts to tie your shoes you are doing something right”. That poster drives me nuts – if you are training properly nothing should hurt!

    The 80/20 training plans all periodize workouts that develop your aerobic, lactate, and ATP systems. Dr. Gregg’s strength programs integrate into the plans in a manner that you should not overtax your recovery abilities. My own experience is that adding additional activities that duplicate those training effects are counterproductive.

    You might find it useful to do some remedial exercises such as yoga or other mobility activities as part of your recovery, they actually do something productive that contribute to athletic performance and in a way that does not add to you training stress. And you may uncover imbalances that are contributing to your discomfort.

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