Everyone gets DOMS, even the fittest, strongest of athletes. It is the body telling us we have worked hard and created tiny micro tears in the muscle and with the healing of those, we increase our strength. It generally comes after changing your weights program, extensive continuous running, cycling or cardio and definitely catches you out after your first gym session. The stiffness and soreness are from the inflammation around the joints and muscles and the healing process and can take a few days to diminish.
You don't need to worry unless it continues at the same pain rate over days. It generally starts 24 hours after your session and starts to ease over the next few days - just in time to complete your next session.
You should not be feeling DOMS after each session and if you are in pain you may have a strain, sprain or overuse inflammatory injury so be careful. Seek medical advice if you feel the pain is not subsiding.
Effective treatment of DOMS is varied depending on what research you look at but all include rest, ice, anti-inflammatories, easy stretching and gentle massage, some people swear by a bath with Epsom salts or taking magnesium supplements, others are of the opinion a good walk, active recovery and gentle exercise enables it to heal faster. Make sure you are also drinking enough water and eating enough protein so the cells have the best chance of recovery from the amino acids provided through the protein.
Prevention is always better however in some cases can be difficult as a beginner will almost always have DOMS because the muscles haven't worked under load for a long time.
A couple of things you can do to prevent the intensity is warm up and cool down effectively, stretch and relax after the session and stay warm in the cold weather even though you may feel hot. Take it easy and rest between sessions - don't overtrain. A good Personal Trainer will make sure your program is adjusted for you and ensure you are not continuing down a negative path. Periodisation of training plans can always help as well rather than diving in full blast working up to new challenges and consolidating technique before moving on to the next weight goal.
So, next time your trying to walk down the stairs after leg day you will know why. Don't let it stop you in your tracks it's just all part of the journey.
*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.