12 Natural Proven Remedies For Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, also known as DOMS is a muscular condition in which there are symptoms of pain and inflammation in the muscles after doing rigorous or sudden exercises.

Contrary to normal soreness of muscles, which happens during or just after exercising, DOMS occurs after a few days of exercise.

It is quite common in athletes.

DOMS happens due to muscular damage caused by simultaneous contraction and lengthening of muscles.

This leads to the development of high tension and pressure in muscles which destroys the myofibrils and muscle cells.

It can also result if the duration and intensity of exercise are increased, and the body is not able to cope with this sudden change.

Inflammation, pain tenderness, soreness, and stiffness in the muscles are some of the symptoms associated with DOMS.

It can also result if the duration and intensity of exercise are increased, and the body is not able to cope with this sudden change.

Inflammation, pain tenderness, soreness, and stiffness in the muscles are some of the symptoms associated with DOMS.

Oxidative stress is believed to cause tissue damage and play a vital role in the development of DOMS.

Damage to muscle tissues leads to the release of reactive oxygen species. When these free radical species increase in number, they can result in oxidative stress and damage the muscles further.

It is treated using pain reliefs and anti-inflammatory drugs. However, these drugs have adverse effects on the body, and their effects are also short-termed.

12 Natural Remedies to Assist in DOMS  ( Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness)

Studies have been carried out to investigate the effectiveness of many natural supplements in the treatment of DOMS.

Certain nutrients, when taken before and after exercising, can reduce the occurrence of DOMS.

Mostly, they target the inflammation and oxidative stress responsible for DOMS. This can help in early recovery.

1. Turmeric

Turmeric is a healing herb which has excellent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory attributes.
It contains an active compound called curcumin which gives turmeric these properties.

It has an inhibiting effect on inflammation by reduction of transcription factors like Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha (TNF-α) and interleukins (IL), which mediate the inflammatory process.

In this way, it can help in earlier recovery and improvement of muscle function.

A trial was conducted on 20 healthy males to determine the effect of curcumin supplementation in DOMS.

200g curcumin was given twice daily for 48 hours before to 24 hours after exercising.

The group which was given curcumin reported reduced pain, inflammation and muscular damage.

What does this mean? Benefits of turmeric in DOMS include prevention and treatment of pain, inflammation and muscle damage.

2. Menthol

Menthol is a natural organic compound obtained from mint oils such as corn mint and peppermint.

It is waxy and crystalline in nature and melts just a little above the room temperature.

It has a cooling effect on the skin when applied topically. This is due to the activation of thermoreceptors in the skin by menthol.

It activates the cold receptors and cold-sensitive neurons in the skin, which lead to the cooling and relieving the sensation. This effect is used to provide pain relief caused by muscles damage.

These analgesic effects of menthol have been studied in alleviating muscle pain.

A study comparing the analgesic natures of menthol and ice in DOMS-induced pain revealed that topical application of menthol was more effective in relieving the pain and discomfort than ice.

What does this mean? Menthol can be topically applied to sore muscles to relieve pain sensations.

3. Fish Oil

Fish oil has high concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids which help in relieving inflammation and improving performance after intense exercising.

It has also been found to reduce DOMS.

Eleven healthy subjects were treated with omega-3 fatty acid supplementation before and after performing heavy exercises of the arm.

Inflammation was measured before and after consumption of omega-3 fatty acids.

After the exercise, arm soreness increased, but it was found to be 15% lower after consumption of fatty acids.

Thus it was proposed that omega-3 fatty acids can significantly lower the risk of inflammation after physical activity.

What does this mean? Fish oil consumption results in improved muscle strength and reduction of inflammation and pain in DOMS.

4. Water

Water is the most valuable remedy for improving muscle function. It is an important constituent of all body cells and fluids.

Hydration is important both during and after exercise to improve performance and muscle functioning. It helps in circulation of blood and essential nutrients to muscle tissues.

Dehydration during exercising is known to cause skeletal muscle damage and DOMS.

Therefore, the consumption of large amounts of water is vital to muscle health and prevention of DOMS.

What does this mean? Water hydrates the body which helps in the proper nutrition of muscles.

5. Milk and dairy products

Milk is a complete protein source that provides the body with almost all the nutrients.

Milk and dairy products are extremely beneficial for consumption to improve muscular health and function.

Milk and its products like cheese, whey protein, and yogurt provide benefits in muscle repair and recovery after exercise-induced muscle damage.

In studies, it was found that milk consumption after a muscle-damaging exercise can prevent soreness and deterioration of muscle function. It can also facilitate early recovery and enhance performance.

Also, one study stated that consuming chocolate milk after exercising improves muscle performance and balances muscular proteins.

Probiotics in dairy products have an added advantage in DOMS. Consumption of probiotics after exercise results in improved performance and recovery in athletes.

Thus, it is much more beneficial to consume yogurt, curd, and buttermilk.

What does this mean? Milk is a complete food which enhances muscular repair and recovery after eccentric-exercising.

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

6. Caffeine

Caffeine intake is known to improve performance by increasing muscle endurance.

It is beneficial to consume caffeine both before and after exercising. When consumed before, it enhances the performance while consumption post-exercise helps in alleviating muscle soreness and pain.

Studies have been conducted in both male and female subjects reporting the effectiveness of caffeine in DOMS.

When nine male patients were made to consume caffeine after eccentric exercise, it helped it treating inflammation up to 72 hours after the physical activity.

Also, when nine females consumed caffeine 2-3 days after exercising, it led to a significant reduction in muscular pain.

What does this mean? Caffeine consumption helps in alleviating pain and inflammation.

7. Garlic

Garlic contains an active component Allicin, which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Studies have found its potential in the treatment of fatigue and inflammatory conditions.

European Journal of Applied Physiology reports research conducted to examine the effects of allicin supplementation on muscle damage caused by exercise.

It was found that allicin possessed antioxidant properties and was able to treat muscles soreness after exercise by inhibiting interleukins, which are inflammatory mediators.

What does this mean? Antioxidant nature of garlic helps in the treatment of muscle soreness and fatigue.

8. Cherry

Cherries are known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.

It can help in alleviating inflammation and pain in case of DOMS while aiding in the recovery of muscle function after intense exercises.

This feature is due to the presence of phenolic compounds like anthocyanins.

The protective effects of cherries on muscle have been widely studied.

Many studies have reported positive results of cherry consumption in the form of powder, juice or concentrate in eccentric exercises like cycling, running, leg knee extensions and squats.

In one such study, 23 male subjects consumed cherry supplements before and after exercising and reported enhanced muscle strength and reduced muscle soreness.

This was due to the prevention of oxidative damage caused by the exercise.

What does this mean? Cherries protect muscles from damage by toxins and inhibit the inflammatory process.

9. Blueberries

Blueberries are other healthy fruits with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory propensities. They can help in alleviating the symptoms of DOMS and promote early recovery.

In a study, females were given blueberry smoothies and placebo around 5-10 hours before and 12-13 hours after exercising.

After the exercise, muscle damage was caused by increased levels of oxidative stress and inflammation, but the oxidative stress decreased at a fast pace in the group which consumed blueberries.

What does this mean? Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of blueberries help in protecting the muscles from damage and aid in early recovery.

10. Ginger

Ginger is a potent anti-inflammatory agent and can be used for treating inflammation and pain caused by DOMS.

It has been found to be helpful in relieving muscle soreness in women athletes and also lowered the levels of interleukins which cause inflammation.

Ginger also shows analgesic behavior by reducing the muscle pain caused by damaged muscles after exercising.

In the case of DOMS, it can help in recovering muscle strength and functionality lost by intense and unaccustomed exercising.

A study conducted on 36 healthy females reveals that ginger consumption of about 2g, both before and after eccentric exercise helped in alleviating muscle pain and inflammation.

What does this mean? Ginger consumption is beneficial in DOMS as it acts as an excellent analgesic and anti-inflammatory agent.

11. Pomegranate

Pomegranate is a fruit rich in polyphenols which provide dual advantages for treating DOMS. Firstly it helps in preventing oxidative damage caused by free radicals and oxidative stress.

Secondly, it combats inflammation by inhibition of several inflammatory mediators.

These properties of pomegranate are attributed to the presence of tannins and ellagitannins, which are antioxidative agents.

Consumption of pomegranate juice can help in recovering lost muscle strength and eradicating muscle soreness post eccentric exercising.

Natural pomegranate juice was given to nine weightlifters before doing weightlifting exercises. The juice helped in early recovery from muscle damage and soreness and was successful in decreasing inflammation markers.

What does this mean? Pomegranate is a potent muscular strength enhancer and muscle soreness reliever.

12. Thermotherapy

Thermotherapy or heat therapy uses heat to relieve pain. It helps in reducing muscle stiffness and inflammation and promotes healing by increasing the blood circulation.

The rise in tissue temperature also stimulates the sensory nerves, which has an analgesic effect.

Thus, it can be efficiently utilized to combat the inflammation and pain in DOMS and help in healing the damaged muscles.

The analgesic effects of thermotherapy have been proven in a study, where it assisted in eradicating lower back pain successfully.

The effect of Thermotherapy in the case of DOMS has also been evaluated in many studies, where it was used to ease the pain and discomfort following DOMS.

It was also found to be more efficient than cold therapy.

Sixty healthy men divided into three groups were given cold water treatment (Cryotherapy), warm water treatment (Thermotherapy) and no treatment, respectively, after exercising.

It was found that Thermotherapy showed more potential in improving muscle function by decreasing the markers of muscle damage.

What does this mean? Thermotherapy helps in alleviating the pain and inflammation in DOMS.

Dosage / Application Guidelines

The time of dosage of these foods is of particular importance as some foods are beneficial to consume before exercise, some after and others can be taken both before and after to avail their advantages.

The exact dosage and concentrations can be determined by consulting with nutritionist or physiotherapist.

Fruits like cherries and pomegranate can be taken in the form of juices, smoothies or shakes.

Extracts of some foods like turmeric, ginger, and garlic can also be applied topically to ease pain and inflammation.

Supplementations or capsules containing one or more of the above-mentioned remedies are beneficial in reducing DOMS.

Thermotherapy can be undertaken after consulting an expert in the field.


Although these natural foods are safe for consumption, some people may encounter allergies, intolerances or side effects from certain foods like seafood, berries, milk, and dairy.

Persons on medications and with prior health conditions should be careful as some of these foods have a tendency to interact with the working of some of the drugs.

Animal meat, seafood, eggs, and milk are high protein foods, and they should be consumed as per the recommended value.

Over-consumption of protein can cause kidney and liver disorders. These foods are also rich in cholesterol and can disrupt the normal lipid profile.

In some people, turmeric use has been associated with gastrointestinal, kidney, gallbladder and clotting problems.

In the end..

Consumption of foods rich in proteins, omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants and those which have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties is beneficial to prevent or treat Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.

When taken before exercise, the foods improve muscle strength, functioning, and performance, while the intake of the foods after the exercise helps in relieving pain and muscle soreness.

When taken before exercise, the foods improve muscle strength, functioning, and performance, while the intake of the foods after the exercise helps in relieving pain and muscle soreness.

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