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Fitness and Conditioning

Why are my muscles sore?

If you have ever had a tough dance class and walked out feeling okay, but then woken up in a world of pain the next day…welcome. You’re part of the DOMS club. That would be Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.

What is it?

According to Riverdance star and personal trainer Chloey Turner, this feeling is when “your muscles feel stiff and painful hours after exercise, sometimes even many days after.” DOMS occurs when an eccentric muscle action occurs – that is, an activity that causes muscles to lengthen while force is applied, like Irish dancing.

Soreness can kick in as soon as six to eight hours after exercise, and tends to be most sore around the 48 hour mark, although this varies from person to person. Turner adds, “If you change your exercise programme, or work your body harder than you are used to, whether you’re a conditioned athlete or somebody new to exercise, you can get DOMS.”

Is it bad?

No. Frances Dunne, personal trainer, founder of Fitness Formula Irish Dance, and current lead dancer in Lord of the Dance, explains “DOMS is essentially microtrauma done to your muscles during training. The repair and adaptations done as a result of this damage is how we get stronger!” That all said, you need to be able to read your own body, and know the difference between muscle soreness and an injury.

How do I ease the pain?

Sadly, the only thing that can ‘heal’ DOMS is time, but there are ways to help ease the pain and get back to dancing sooner. Turner explains that you should “have a combination of protein and carbohydrates within 30 minutes after exercise, like a protein shake and a banana. This will help to refuel your body, promote muscle recovery, and keep you energised.”

Dunne says, “encouraging blood flow will encourage repair, so things like warm baths, gentle stretching and light movement or cardio will help you deal with it.” Turner agrees with this, and adds, “Make sure to always warm up and cool down properly and of course keep hydrated!”

Have you ever dealt with DOMS? What’s your secret to getting your muscles back in shape after a tough class? Share in the comments below, or join the conversation on our Facebook page.

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