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6 Ways to Beat Post-Workout DOMS

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Penny Barnshaw, Garage Fitness Girl's tips on reducing Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS).

DOMS, or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, is a good sign that your body is adapting to exercise and getting fitter. So give yourself a pat on the back! But as most of us know all too well, putting up with DOMS can be a real pain (pun intended)­čść. Thankfully, while we can’t completely get rid of DOMS, we can certainly reduce it.

Most people start to feel the effects of DOMS around 8 hours after a workout, although it can be earlier. The soreness is usually at its most intense 24-48 hours after exercise, when you get that second-day muscle pain that makes it hard to sit down! Severe cases of DOMS can last between three and five days in total, although you should find the stiffness starts to ease after the first couple of days.

I recently mentioned a few tips to beat DOMS over on my Instagram page, but below you’ll find a bit more detail. Follow these tips and you’ll be moving around with a reduction in the duration and severity of those post-workout aches and pains in no time!

1. Stay hydrated during and after your workout

Of course, this doesn’t mean you should be sloshing around full of water while you’re working out! But making sure you drink 2-3 litres of water per day will reduce your DOMS in future workout sessions. It’s a matter of taking the time for self-care now, so that you aren’t increasing your soreness later due to dehyration, which the body really doesn’t cope well with.

2. Avoid too much caffeine, salt and sugar post-workout

These substances can cause dehydration, so it really pays to keep them at a minimum! Stick to water post-workout, along with a whole-foods smoothie or a balanced meal. Your refuel meal or smoothie should include both carbs and protein.

Note that the sugar in fruit is fine because it has the fibre attached to it, so you don’t need to ditch it from your post-workout smoothies! When it comes to salt, don’t be afraid of adding it to your veggies (athletes doing intense workouts actually need to replenish their salt levels). I am simply encouraging you to not overindulge; I certainly wouldn’t recommend choosing super salty foods like chips after a workout, as you’ll definitely be feeling dehydrated afterwards.

If you’d like to know more about what I eat to look after myself, check out this blog.

3. Foam roll or get a massage

Foam rolling and gentle massage have the same effect; both are good ways to increase the blood circulation and flush out toxins in the body. However, avoid deep tissue massage in the first 24 hours after an intense workout, as this can cause more pain and irritation to the muscles.

4. Have a hot bath

Similar to the massage and foam rolling, a hot bath promotes blood flow which helps sore muscles relax. You can also add Epsom Salts to the bath water to give the body a dose of magnesium to help reduce muscle soreness. As an added bonus, magnesium also helps with sleep.

5. Engage in active recovery

This is one of the best things we can do for our sore muscles, even though it’s usually the last thing we feel like doing! Some very light movement such as walking or gentle mobility work can really get the blood pumping into those affected areas.

6. Take time to cool down post-workout

Skipping the cool down period after a workout is a big no-no! If you’re prone to severe DOMS, you may need to take more time than other people for your cool down (trust your body!). 5 minutes of slowly moving the body as you stretch and unwind can make a big difference, particularly when compared to suddenly stopping an intense workout.

Which of these tips will you try? I’d love to hear from you!

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If you’d like to workout with me, keep an eye on my YouTube channel so you can check out the new workouts I upload each week. You can also sign up to my newsletter to receive my free monthly workout calendars. 

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