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Recovering from Intense Workouts: Easing DOMS and Optimising Your Recovery

Written by Olly Stables

At CrossFit FFH, we understand the physical demands that come with pushing yourself to the next level (feeling those post-'Murph' vibes). However, we also acknowledge that this level of exertion often brings along delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). In this blog post, we will explore DOMS, its causes, and provide you with effective strategies to recover and optimise your performance, ensuring that you can continue to excel in your fitness journey.

Understanding DOMS:

DOMS is a natural response to strenuous exercise that often manifests as muscle discomfort and pain. When you engage in intense workouts, you subject your muscles to new challenges and stress. This stress can cause microscopic damage to muscle fibres, leading to inflammation and the subsequent onset of DOMS.

According to a study published in the Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation, DOMS typically peaks within 24 to 72 hours after exercise and gradually resolves within a week (Cheung et al., 2012). During this period, your muscles may feel tender, stiff, and weakened. But don't worry! There are science-backed strategies to aid in your recovery.

"DOMS typically peaks within 24 to 72 hours after exercise and gradually resolves within a week"

Recovery Strategies for DOMS:

Embrace Active Recovery:

Active recovery plays a vital role in reducing DOMS. Engage in low-impact activities such as light cycling, swimming, or mobility exercises. These activities promote blood flow, increase oxygen delivery to the muscles, and help flush out metabolic waste, accelerating the recovery process.

Prioritise Rest and Sleep:

Rest and sleep are essential components of recovery. Allow your body enough time to rest and repair by incorporating rest days into your training schedule. Additionally, prioritise quality sleep, aiming for 7-9 hours each night. During sleep, your body undergoes crucial processes, including muscle regeneration and tissue repair.

According to research from the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, adequate sleep enhances muscle recovery and performance by facilitating the release of growth hormone and promoting protein synthesis (Czeisler et al., 2013). So, don't underestimate the power of a good night's sleep!

Incorporate Stretching and Mobility Work:

Stretching and mobility exercises are valuable tools in mitigating DOMS and enhancing recovery. Dedicate time to dynamic warm-ups and cool-downs that involve stretching major muscle groups. Focus on areas of tightness or soreness, gently stretching to promote blood flow and increase flexibility.

Utilise Self-Myofascial Release Techniques:

Self-myofascial release techniques, such as foam rolling or using a lacrosse ball, can effectively alleviate DOMS symptoms. By applying controlled pressure to targeted muscle groups, you can improve blood circulation, release tension, and break up muscle knots, aiding in faster recovery.

Apply Heat or Cold Therapy:

Heat and cold therapy can help alleviate DOMS discomfort. Applying a heat pack, taking a warm bath, or using a heating pad can improve blood flow, relax muscles, and reduce stiffness. Cold therapy, such as ice packs or cold showers, can reduce inflammation and numb the area, providing temporary relief. Experiment with both methods to find what works best for you.

Hydrate and Nourish Your Body:

Proper hydration and nutrition are crucial for optimal recovery. Stay well-hydrated by drinking water throughout the day, as it aids in muscle function and repair. Focus on a well-balanced diet rich in lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to provide your body with the necessary nutrients for recovery and growth.

Gradually Increase Training Intensity:

While progress and challenge are important, it's essential to gradually increase the intensity of your workouts. Pushing too hard too soon can lead to prolonged DOMS and increased risk of injuries. Respect your body's need for adaptation and progression, allowing it to grow stronger over time.

DOMS is a common experience following intense workouts, but it doesn't have to hinder your progress. By implementing these recovery strategies backed by scientific research, you can effectively manage DOMS, optimise your recovery, and continue to excel in your fitness journey.

Remember to listen to your body, prioritise rest and nourishment, and gradually increase the intensity of your workouts. With the right strategies and mindset, you'll bounce back stronger, ready to tackle new challenges and achieve your fitness goals.


Cheung, K., Hume, P., & Maxwell, L. (2012). Delayed onset muscle soreness: treatment strategies and performance factors. Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation, 8(2), 117-124.

Czeisler, C. A., et al. (2013). Association of later chronotype with enhanced muscle strength and power output in athletes. Chronobiology International, 30(7), 10.3109/07420528.2013.793686.

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