Delayed Onset Muscular Soreness (DOMS) is a common concern among fitness enthusiasts and athletes. It refers to the muscle pain and stiffness experienced after intense physical activity, especially when the body is introduced to new or strenuous exercises. While DOMS is a natural response to muscle damage and is part of the adaptation process, it can be uncomfortable and may deter individuals from continuing their fitness journey. As fitness professionals, understanding the role of antioxidants in mitigating DOMS can be invaluable in assisting clients.

The Science Behind Antioxidants and DOMS

Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) and Exercise: During physical activity, the body’s metabolism accelerates, leading to the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). While ROS play a role in training adaptation, excessive ROS can cause inflammation, muscle damage, and fatigue. The balance between ROS and antioxidants is crucial for optimal training adaptation.

  1. Antioxidants and Muscle Recovery: Antioxidants counteract the damaging effects of ROS. Micronutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin E, resveratrol, coenzyme Q10, selenium, and curcumin play a significant role in neutralising free radicals, aiding in muscle recovery and enhancing physical and mental wellbeing.
  2. Antioxidant Supplementation: While the body has its natural antioxidant defence system, supplementation can provide additional support, especially during intense training. However, it’s essential to note that excessive antioxidant supplementation can negate the beneficial effects of ROS in cellular signalling.

Practical Applications for Fitness Professionals

  1. Educate Clients: Inform your clients about the role of ROS in muscle adaptation and the benefits of antioxidants in muscle recovery. Emphasise the importance of balance and the potential risks of excessive supplementation.
  2. Dietary Recommendations: Encourage a diet rich in natural antioxidants. Foods such as berries, nuts, dark leafy greens, and fish are excellent sources.
  3. Supplementation Guidance: If clients are considering antioxidant supplements, advise them to consult with a healthcare professional. Ensure they understand the importance of appropriate dosages and the potential risks of over-supplementation.
  4. Monitor and Adjust: Regularly check in with your clients about their muscle soreness levels and recovery times. Adjust their training regimens and dietary recommendations based on their feedback and recovery status.

Become a Level 4 Nutrition Coach & Help Your Clients with DOMS

Understanding the interplay between ROS, antioxidants, and exercise is crucial for fitness professionals. By integrating this knowledge into training programmes and dietary recommendations, professionals can better assist their clients in achieving their fitness goals while minimising discomfort from DOMS.


  1. Katieli Santos de Lima, Felipe Barreto Schuch, Natiele Camponogara Righi, Patricia Chagas, Mireli Hemann Lamberti, Gustavo Orione Puntel, Antonio Marcos Vargas da Silva & Luis Ulisses Signori (2023) Effects of the combination of vitamins C and E supplementation on oxidative stress, inflammation, muscle soreness, and muscle strength following acute physical exercise: meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 63:25, 7584-7597. Click here to review the full research article 
  2. Clemente-Suárez, V.J.; Bustamante-Sanchez, Á.; Mielgo-Ayuso, J.; Martínez-Guardado, I.; Martín-Rodríguez, A.; Tornero-Aguilera, J.F. Antioxidants and Sports Performance. Nutrients 2023, 15, 2371. Click here to review the full research article

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