Difference between injuries & DOMS
“What’s the difference between an injury and DOMS?” This a question we are often asked in the clinic. DOMS stands for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, which is a very normal and common response to exercise. This soreness is usually felt around 24 hours after exercise and typically lasts for around 3-4 days – depending on the intensity of the exercise.
As injury specialists, to differentiate between DOMS and an injury we will be looking out for the onset of the pain/soreness (during exercise? Was there a traumatic incident that caused the pain?), how long it has been there (days? weeks?) and the severity of the pain (are you able to walk? Has it stopped your day-to-day activities?). The answers to these questions will enable us to decide whether we believe there is an injury or if we have just worked up a little muscle soreness from a training session.
Training – can you scale back to keep within pain-free range?
Here at Injury Active, we aim to promote active recovery, whether that be on a rest day between training or during a period of injury. This means that if you are suffering from an injury, we will, if safe to, continue to keep you training alongside your rehabilitation. What might this look like? Let’s take running for example, we would look at scaling back your 10k runs to 5k to avoid bringing on your symptoms and allow the injury site to repair under a reduced load. Another example of working with a pain-free range would be to initially guide your gym training sessions to working only on upper body strength and cardio if you are suffering from a lower limb injury. Through rehab exercise prescription, manual therapy and the continuation of your adapted training regime, we can target the cause of your symptoms and get you on the road to recovery.
Reintroduction to training
As your overall symptoms decrease, the irritability of your injury reduces, and your strength builds we can begin to reintroduce those elements of your training that we originally removed. For example, if we reduced your running distance from 10k to 5k at the beginning of your rehab, week by week we will suggest an increase of 0.5k and reassess your symptoms and injury status each session to ensure we are not progressing too quickly and increase the risk of reinjury.
If you are unsure if your symptoms are a result of DOMS after a training session or if you are suffering from an injury, get in contact with one of our therapists to discuss things further, or book an appointment online and we can build your understanding and guide your recovery.
Hotfiel, T., Freiwald, J., Hoppe, M. W., Lutter, C., Forst, R., Grim, C., & Heiss, R. (2018). Advances in delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS): Part I: Pathogenesis and diagnostics. Sportverletzung· Sportschaden, 32(04), 243-250.
Michael Silva, M. S., Ready, L. V., & ScB, C. M. E. (2020). Foundational Health for runners: is it the key to Minimizing injury? Rhode Island Medical Journal, 103(7), 54-58.