How to Treat Sore Legs

We originally addressed this concern on Quora ( for those unfamiliar with the site: ”Quora connects you to everything you want to know about”) and thought this was relevant enough to include on the RoadBikeMike site.

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (“DOMS”) is an inevitable side effect to any multi-day tour/race, any early training program, jumping into the sport as a newbie and/or any hard climb/ride. While the “delay” in DOMS varies by individual and exercise, the “soreness” increases in intensity in the first 24 hours after exercise and peaks between 24 and 72 hours post-exercise.  The soreness should disappear completely by five to seven days post-exercise.

If you’re riding a multi-day tour or race or following a structured training program, chances are that you will be forced to ride with DOMS.  The following are best-practices for reducing the effect of DOMS:

  • Keep Riding - Somewhat counterintuitively, subsequent riding can temporarily suppress DOMS in what is known as exercise-induced analgesia.  Ever felt terrible on day 2 of a multi-day tour, only to bounce back in days 3 and beyond?
  • Increase Blood Flow - Any measure that increases blood flow to the legs will increase “healing” to the region. This includes massage, sauna, low intensity work (i.e. cool downs), hot baths, whirlpools and compression tights.

The following practice for reducing the effect of DOMS is somewhat unproven:

  • Ice Bath - Medical studies have both proven and disproven the advantages in DOMS recovery utilizing ice baths. Interestingly, the proven study utilized water temperatures of 13°C for 20 minutes (http://journals.lww.com/acsm-mss…) while the disproven study utilized water temperatures of both 5°C and 24°C for three 1 minute immersions (http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/41/6…).  Perhaps the answer is in the disparity of temps and duration.

Lastly, these practices appear to be wholly unproven in reducing the effect of DOMS:

Personally, I’m a firm believer in experimenting with what works best for you, your body, and your schedule within the multi-day ride