Written by: ASN



Time to read 3 min

Do you know the kind of muscle soreness that takes a day or so to reveal itself? The type of tenderness that makes you shuffle up and down stairs and grab the walls when you need to sit down? This is what we call DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). Almost everyone who hits the gym has experienced this level of discomfort before. But why do our muscles get so sore?

When we exercise, our connective tissues and muscle fibres experience muscle trauma primarily when executing exercises in the ‘eccentric phase.’ Generally, the eccentric part of any exercise (the part when tension is on the muscle during the down phase of a movement, e.g., the down part of a bicep curl or squat) is the culprit for DOMs due to simultaneous stretching and lengthening of the muscle, naturally causing tiny tears in muscle fibres. Fortunately, this normal process begins to feel better within 24-48 hours as our muscles naturally repair and strengthen themselves. This is where those gains come from!

There is no denying that DOMs can be extremely painful and may even leave you feeling unmotivated and unable to put in your best efforts at the gym while your body repairs. So, how can you minimise the effects to ensure your body can recover and continue to perform at its best? Here are our top three tips:

1. Warm Up/Cool Down

Prepare your body for the stress you are about to put it under by stretching and warming up your muscles and connective tissues. Not only will this support your performance and recovery, but it may also reduce the risk of injury!

The point of it all? A warm-up helps to increase your body temperature and increase blood flow to your working muscles, which gradually revs up your cardiovascular system. Likewise, a cool down allows you to regain your pre-exercise heart rate and blood pressure, allowing your body to recover progressively and regulate blood flow.

An important note: Warming up and cooling down certainly won’t cure DOMS. However, various small studies suggest a proper warm-up may reduce the amount of soreness endured 48-hours post-workout. Additionally, one study also found that people who did a 10-20 minute low-medium intensity cycle after a rigorous strength workout reported less muscle pain than those who rested immediately after.

2. The 4 Rs of Recovery

When it comes to fuelling your body the right way for recovery, nutrients are everything. Here’s a quick rundown of how every recovery should be approached (especially when DOMS is at play):

1. Refuel

Consuming carbohydrates helps to replace the muscle glycogen depleted during exercise, which helps fuel your body to help repair damaged muscles. As such, be sure to eat a protein and carbohydrate-rich meal or sip on an Evolve Reload shake within roughly 30-minutes post-workout to ensure your muscles are ready to soak up the nutrients and reap the benefits.

Not sure what to consume?

Chicken and salad sandwich

Tuna or salmon

Protein and berry smoothie

Tinned tuna on crackers

Rice cakes with peanut butter

Evolve Reload shake

2. Repair

For the best results, pair your carbs with protein. Adequate amino acid-charged protein is imperative for muscle recovery, growth, and overall functioning. Ensure once you have finished the training session, you work on that recovery instantly with a high-quality fast-absorbing protein powder like WPI - Whey Protein Isolate or Evolve Reload (to get that protein/carbs combo in). Replenish your body and encourage repair so you can get back in the gym and continue working towards those body goals.

Here’s a few quality protein sources:

Eggs Chicken or fish
Milk, yoghurt, or cheese Nuts, seeds, and legumes
Evolve WPI  

3. Rehydrate

Did you know that muscles contain a high concentration of water? Believe it or not, even slight dehydration can exacerbate the pain associated with DOMS. Rehydrating after an intense workout helps to replenish lost fluids and electrolytes.

4. Revitalise

While protein and carbohydrates are key players in helping your muscles recover post-workout, they’re not the only hidden gems your body needs to facilitate the recovery process. It’s important to ensure you’re getting enough vitamins and minerals, particularly antioxidants. Make sure you’re eating plenty of good fruits and vegetables to support your recovery.

3. Exercise

Yes, you did read that correctly! Increasing blood circulation will encourage the repair of muscle fibres by speeding up nutrient delivery to your muscles. It’s also going to support your body in draining lactic acid or metabolic waste. Keep your body moving at a lesser intensity or try light cardio to keep the blood flowing, and always remember to take a rest day if you need to!