We’ve all been there. Two days after an intense Rocket class, and you’re still struggling to climb the stairs. Sometimes it feels like your quads will never recover.

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (or DOMS) is that dull ache that arrives between 24 and 72 hours after exercise. It can come in a variety of forms, including loss of strength, limited range of motion, or just good old muscle ache. It’s a result of tiny tears in your muscle fibres leading to an inflammatory response that contributes to the healing process.

Anyone who exercises will be familiar with the agony of next- or second-day burn. Most of the time, we can power through, but what if the DOMS are way too much? Here are a few ways to help you get through the pain.

Get moving

Yep. It sounds like the worst possible option, but moving actually helps to shorten the amount of time you ache for. Don’t overdo it (especially in the first 24 hours), but make sure to get in some gentle exercise to decrease your DOMS. Gentle yoga classes, a slow jog, or a casual bike ride will all help to release you from the pain. This kind of active rest stimulate recovery in a way that sitting still never will.

Get a massage

After the first 24 hours, massage is a great way to lengthen tight muscles. Massage encourages the muscles to get moving again, leading to better recovery. Avoid deep tissue massage straight after exercise though – when your muscles are in the early recovery stage, they are much more prone to injury.

Get an ice bath (or a hot one)

This solution is not for everyone, but research shows that it works. Taking a cold bath after exercise promotes the reduction of pain in sore muscles. Hot baths help too, but the research around heat focuses mainly on back soreness.

Take painkillers (if you have to)

If you’re in a really bad way, you can take NSAIDs like Ibuprofen to mitigate the pain. However, taking painkillers actually impairs muscle recovery, so you might be undoing all the hard work by taking them. If you ever experience pain after exercise that you can’t face without painkillers, it’s worth getting to the doctor to make sure you haven’t injured yourself. Any pain that persists past a few days (or that appears a few days after exercise) is worth looking into.

The awful truth is that if you exercise, you get DOMS. Whether you’re an experienced yogi or a seasoned athlete, that quad ache struggle is real.