What is DOMS (aka delayed onset muscle soreness) and Supplements to help

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What is DOMS (aka delayed onset muscle soreness) and Supplements to help

Almost everyone has experienced sore muscles 1-2 days after a new or heavier workout in the gym or training, an unaccustomed hill walk or run, or after that first game of the year, but do you know what causes that muscle pain?

This muscle pain is called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) and it usually comes on 24-48hours after unaccustomed physical activity. Evidence shows that DOM’s is usually more severe after eccentric exercise which is where muscle contraction happens while the muscle is lengthening out. This causes micro-damage at the muscle fibre level and result in an exaggerated inflammatory reaction.

DOMS can occur in any muscle of the body that has recently been exposed to unfamiliar or intense physical activity.

Why it is DOMS worse 48 hours after the physical acvitiy bout? This because of the time-frame for the inflammatory process to peak and begin to repair the micro-damage. Many hormones and chemicals are released by the body during this time to clean up the inflamed site and rebuild the microscopic tears that have occurred.

DOMS will often present at about 24hrs after the activity bout, peak at 48hrs and settle within 3days, but in some instances, it may take longer.

The good thing about DOMS is each time you experience it, your muscles will repair stronger to adapt to this stimulus, so take solace in the pain of DOMS that you are actually doing yourself some good. The caution with this is to not push your damaged muscles excessively in this  period of damage (gentle activity is fine to help maintain mobility and movement), but wait until your muscle pain has settled before you engage in any demanding physical activity to ensure you don’t create a true injury.



As most will know, these are a staple recommendation, for many reasons. Studies have shown that taking 5g before high volume resistance training can significantly reduce subjective levels of DOMS compared to placebo. The main player here would be leucine.

Fish Oil:

The anti-inflammatory effects of fish oil are well documented, ad nauseum. While the study in mind did only show a mild effect, the effects on IL-6, IL-2 and most notably TNF-a would make this, IMO, a staple for anyone experiencing significant DOMS. I prefer Krill oil.


Bromelain (pineapple), Papain (papaya), and proteases like Aspergillus melleus and A. oryzae have been shown to subjectively decrease the effects of DOMS, as well as measures of hs-CRP and CK-MB, measures of inflammation and muscle damage.


Items like ascorbic acid, grapes (resveratrol—and no ladies, this does not mean red wine PWO), and sour cherry have been shown to reduce DOMS and inflammation in the PWO period secondary to the anti-oxidant activity. My preference is RAW Cacao and dark chocolate.


Shown to reduce CK and markers of muscle damage, possible through increased oxygenation of skeletal muscle (the same mechanism that increases lactate threshold with carnitine.)



Glutamine again works in a similar way to the BCAAs by preventing muscle break down. I like to use a high dose of glutamine 60g+ post workout using smaller doses has little to no effect on my DOMS. The best property of glutamine are its anti catabolic ability.


Article by Pete Gawtry

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