If you’re new to exercise or haven’t trained for a while, the chances are you will have experienced the dreaded DOMS – that is, Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. We’ve all been there the morning after a workout where you go to get out of bed and find yourself hobbling across the landing like a baby giraffe. Or, ladies, when you’re trying to put on a bra when your shoulders and arms are so sore you wonder about just not bothering!

It can feel unfair that the reward for putting ourselves through a hardcore workout is pain. But DOMS is completely normal, and general aches and pains after exercising are generally nothing to worry about.

What is DOMS?

When we strength-train in the gym, we are effectively causing micro-tears in the muscle. The idea of this is that they recover to become stronger and fitter. So actually, the fact you’re experiencing soreness can show you fitness is progressing. The pain you’re feeling is  because the blood flow increases around the muscle to promote healing, which creates a temporary inflammation.

Typically you’ll feel those aches creep within 24 hours after a workout – some feel it the next morning when they get out of bed, while others feeling it creeping up on them through the day. In fact, DOMS typically peaks about 48 hours after a workout, which is why a lot of people seem to experience pain a couple of days after their workout.

How can I help DOMS?

While you can’t really stop DOMS from ever happening, there are a few things you can do that will certainly ease the pain, and help you recover quicker. It’s also worth noting that the more you train, the more your body will get used to it, and you’re likely to experience DOMS less. It’s not something you should chase – just because you don’t get it, it doesn’t mean your workout hasn’t been a good one or worthwhile.

Epsom salt baths

Epsom salts are a great staple to keep on hand – just add a few handfuls to a warm bath and soak for at least 20 minutes. Epsom salts are rich in magnesium, which is really important for helping muscles heal. Getting into a routine of soaking in an Epsom bath after the gym will definitely help shortcut the DOMS.

Ice baths

If you can brave it, an ice-bath is also a good shout, though many might not fancy this idea as much! Many athletes try sitting in an ice bath to help ease the soreness, though we think we’d much prefer the warm Epsom salt bath idea!

Foam rolling and stretching

Grab a foam roller and this can also be a really effective way to ease your muscles – and cheaper than a massage! A bit of gentle rolling and stretching can really help. You can pick these rollers up fairly cheaply from most fitness stores nowadays.

Up your protein

Your diet is also a really keep element in combatting DOMS. You want to make sure you’re getting enough protein, as this helps aid the recovery of your muscles. Many people opt for a protein shake straight after training, but generally making sure you’re eating enough protein day-to-day will really help.

Gentle exercise

And this might sound crazy, but actually taking part in some light recovery exercise, such as walking or swimming, can really help. If you avoid the gym after an ache-inducing workout, you’re only going to make it harder next time you go. The best thing to do is keep active. Your muscles will soon acclimatise to your new training routines.