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Cindy Boggs is an American Council on Exercise-certified fitness professional, corporate wellness presenter and author of the award winning book, CindySays… "You Can Find Health in Your Hectic World." Send inquiries/comments to

The New Year is here and statistics tell us that at least 40 percent of us made a New Year's resolution. Making commitments toward better health is an admirable way to start a year; however, only about 8 percent of us actually achieve them. 

One of the biggest reasons we don't succeed is that we hate the pain associated with physical activity. It's called DOMS, short for delayed onset muscle soreness. Delayed is the key word here because all the muscle soreness and stiffness sneaks up on us 24 to 48 hours after the workout is over. No fair, right? Of course there are a few who are rewarded and spurred on by the discomfort — most though, just walk away. 

It goes something like this:

Monday morning you're pumped and determined to hit the weights hard. The now-or-never mindset is fully engaged, even though you haven't done a single pushup or squat in 348 days. By the way — the average lifespan of a resolution is 17 days so everything's adding up. 

You finish an impressive workout that drenches your body in sweat and pride and as you shower, you can't wait to do it all again on Wednesday. 

Wednesday morning you reach for the alarm clock and recoil in severe pain cursing the paper your resolutions were written on. 

How in the world can you be this sore? It takes you 15 minutes to crawl out of bed as every muscle fiber screams in retaliation of Monday's stellar effort. 

Resolve to give yourself a chance

Although some muscular discomfort and stiffness, or DOMS, is quite normal, especially if you have been inactive for a while, it is not necessary to experience intense pain for more than a couple days. 

If, however, your workout was too enthusiastic for your own good, you are going to have the kind of pain that sidelines you and makes you want to never be active again. 

So it's OK to have DOMS?

Yes, it is OK to have some discomfort. This is the result of microscopic tears in the connective tissue around your muscle following eccentric exercise and is your body adapting. It does sneak up on you 24 to 48 hours after activity but should decline after 72 hours. 

This adaption process actually makes your stronger and the good news is that once you become consistently active, you shouldn't experience that sensation again until the intensity is increased. Keep in mind that even conditioned individuals will feel the effects of DOMS when they either exercise in an unfamiliar way, or increase the intensity, frequency or duration of their workout.


If you have been a little overzealous in your attempt at getting back into shape, here are a few treatment options. While some of these can reduce the amount of inflammation, the best treatment is prevention.

R — Rest. Take a break from intense activity

I — Ice the affected areas

C — Compression, such as an ace wrap

E — Elevate affected area above the heart


Preparing the body with a thorough warm-up, which raises the muscle temperature and increases the elasticity of muscle tissue, is vital to reducing discomfort and improving athletic performance. Also, following a 10 percent rule — a progressive approach to exercise that increases intensity and duration and amount of weight lifted in increments of no more than10 percent per week — seems to be one of the best ways to prevent extreme pain and stiffness. 

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs — NSAIDSs — continue to have mixed reviews as to their effectiveness in alleviating the pain of DOMS. Following your workout, always cool-down — actively recover — with low-intensity movement.