DOMS - Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.  This is the soreness in the muscles felt after strenuous exercise or if you are starting out on a new exercise program.  The soreness is worse within the first 24-72 hours after exercise.

When you exercise, your muscles tear slightly, known as microtears, and this is what causes the pain - not lactic acid as is frequently believed.  The muscles then repair themselves and become stronger with more stamina.  Over time, the muscles are able to take more during exercise and recover quicker, resulting in little to no DOMS. 

There is no proven way to treat DOMS.  The most common things to help easy symptoms are: -

  • Plenty water 
  • Light stretching 
  • Massage/Foam Roll
  • Painkillers
  • Heat and Ice packs alternating for more more than 20 minutes a time 

It has been suggested that 20 minutes of foam rolling at the hips and legs for the three days following a leg training session may decrease DOMS pain. An acute 10-minute foam roll may immediately reduce DOMS pain for up to 30 minutes.

The theory behind it is the pressure and movement causes the fluid in the body to become more viscous, and also generate heat, which makes it easier to move - think of oil in an engine.  It is also theorised that massaging the muscles in one direction realigns the fibres in the muscle leading to increased lymphatic drainage and less resistance.  Whatever the reason, most people who have suffered from DOMS, swear by foam rolling.  There are several useful videos on YouTube on how to foam roll.