Muscle Soreness


This morning I rolled out of bed with a groan and immediately felt the familiar soreness and restriction that accompanies DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness).

If you train long enough odds are you will experience DOMS of every severity from total incapacitation having to almost crawl out of bed to a mild discomfort that just lets you know it was leg day yesterday.


The mechanism behind the onset of DOMS and is likely due to a number of responses to exercise induced muscle damage including lactic acid and damage to the connective tissue surrounding muscle.

That being said we do know that the commencement of training by a novice or after an extended layoff will most likely cause some degree of muscle soreness. This can also be said for experienced trainers who change their training participating in exercise they are unaccustomed to.

In my case I jumped into the group class here at ACTV after a decent period of time off and definitely overestimated my ability. The result was moderate to severe soreness that will affect my training for the next 24-48 hours of the week.


Make no mistake DOMS is an indication that you have caused damage or “injured” your muscles. If you have experienced DOMS you have probably observed moderate to drastic reductions to your range of motion, sometimes bad enough to alter your gait. This change in in movement patterns can place unaccustomed stress on ligament and tendons and increase the risk of further injury. Muscle soreness will also decreases the ability to produce force meaning you will be weaker when training.


The short answer is YES however muscle soreness has never been directly linked to muscle strength and size increases.

However it can be observed that those who experience the most regular occurrence of DOMS; novice trainers and those who change their training coincidentally experience the greatest training effects.


Appropriate nutrition, hydration and active recovery (e.g. walking swimming) are going to be the best strategies in reducing pain and soreness. Exercise remains the most effective means of alleviating the pain associated with DOMS, however this is only temporary. As mentioned training with severe muscle soreness is not a good idea, training should be at a reduced intensity and target muscle groups unaffected by DOMS.

Sleep and nutrition have possibly the biggest effect on reducing muscle soreness, getting these right is essential to recovery and should be your first consideration. Other therapies considered to have a positive effect on the reduction on muscle soreness although few have substantiated scientific support. These include:

-          Hot Cold Therapy

-          Foam Rolling

-          Epsom Salt Baths

-          Anti-Inflammatory Medication

In my case I got down to training early rode the assault bike at a low intensity, performed some soft tissue work on the affected areas and dynamic mobility exercises to improve my range of motion before class started. During class I reduced both my intensity and volume and was vigilant of my movements. Later that day I jumped in the pool and completed some low intensity water running, range of motion work and floated for 5 minutes. Today the pain is almost non-existent and I will be able to train hard.


At ACTV Strength Co. we understand that people love training and we want to see them at their very best. For this reason our weekly program is designed to be flexible and sustainable. Training intensities alternate daily from high to low allowing for appropriate recovery and optimal results. That being said if you are recovered and feeling good workouts are also flexible providing opportunities to work at higher intensities.

If you are suffering DOMS our coaching staff is always on hand to provide assistance. Coaches can provide soft tissue, mobility and movement drills that can assist you in preparing for class along with modifications to the daily training program.


-          If you are novice trainer, returning after some time off or participate in a new form of exercise you are more than likely to develop DOMS.

-          If you have severe DOMS attempting to train at your usual intensity will greatly increase your risk of further injury.

-          Some soreness after training can be a good thing providing a guide to what muscles your training has affected and can indicate appropriate training stimulus for improvement.

-          Sleep and appropriate nutrition should be a priority.

-          Active recovery such as walking, water running or swimming can be a good option instead of high intensity training.

-          Talk to your coaches about modifications to training and strategies to combat DOMS


Matt Pow