DOMS – To Train or Not to Train…

DOMS or Delayed Onset Muscular Soreness is something anyone with an interest in working out, exercise and/or training is either familiar with or has experienced. Without getting too sciencey about it, DOMS is a dull ache and stiffness in muscles from 24 – 72 hours after working out caused by eccentric exercise which lengthens the muscle fibres.

Anyone who resistance trains has probably experienced DOMS, I know I certainly have. I don’t experience it too often when I regularly work out, I do however feel it after I’ve had a break from exercise or sometimes when I begin a new/more intense programme. I’m putting this bout of DOMS down to the fact I haven’t really worked out properly in two weeks until Monday and over the past two days I have churned out 120 front squats, 180 overhead squats and 90 lunges. So in short, my legs a knackered.

There is a lot of conflicting information and debate to be found on the internet regarding DOMS, causes, treatment and prevention. There also appears to be a split between the school of thought that says don’t train when experiencing DOMS and the school that says man up, it’s only a bit of pain. In the past, I have swing between the two options, sometimes believing further training helps ‘loosen’ me up and other times have ached quite a bit so have given myself some recovery time. I have yet to form a conclusion either way as to which benefits me personally.

I have read that massage, hot baths and low intensity cardio can help ease DOMS. Without sounding like too much of a wimp, my legs ache pretty bad today my original plan to go for a 5K run or some hill running is just not going to happen. That being said, I don’t want to rest today either. In light of my determination to make some gains in a short period of time (4-6 weeks), I feel like I need to keep up the training even if it is at a reduced intensity.

With this in mind I’m going to hit the gym after work and do a short back session, pull-ups, bent-over rows etc. and then 30 mins or so on the cross-trainer at a steady rate for some cardio (and to put to test the theory of LISS helping ease DOMS). Hopefully that should be enough to keep me ticking over until tomorrow when I can hammer out some more circuits and Friday when I’ll be crossfitting at the mercy of Cpt. Crofts at the ‘zoo.


2 thoughts on “DOMS – To Train or Not to Train…

  1. Hi, I came across your post through freshly pressed and it got me to thinking – I haven’t done a lot of research into the efficacy of different modalities applied in the treatment of DOMS, but I found this metareview ( on recovery modalities in elite athletes which really says it all, and the conclusion summarises nicely:

    “its mean effect (massage therapy) was too small to be of clinical relevance. There is a lack of evidence to support the use of cryotherapy, stretching and low-intensity exercise.”

    This last part seems to indicate that jogging won’t help your DOMS. With that said there’s an awful lot known about the ‘open window’ which is created in the immune system after exercise and can lead to illness with progressive decline if sufficient rest is not achieved, as well as overtraining, and last but not least Rhabdomyolysis (Prof Robertson writes a good post on that here: which anecdotally appears to be rife in the CrossFit community.

    You should give yourself some rest, or at least be sure to train an entirely different body part until the muscles that are experiencing DOMS have had time to recover properly.

    All the best with your health & fitness goals, and feel free to visit my fitness-based blog 🙂

    Jason Jarred

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