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Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)
March 4, 2015

Quote: “No pain, no gain.” ~Jane Fonda

Task: Be aware of the causes of your muscle soreness.

 

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is the pain and stiffness felt during recovery after and intense workout, usually involving eccentric exercises. Pain is felt only when the muscle is stretched, contracted or put under pressure, not when it is at rest and is a symptom of the muscle damage caused in a workout session.

Other symptoms associated with DOMS include decreased muscle function, decreased range of motion, muscle swelling.

DOMS is a normal response and is part of the adaptation process (See “Adaptation”) leading to increased strength, endurance and hypertrophy of the muscle.

DOMS usually occurs within the first 12-72 hours after the workout and lasts anywhere from 1-5 days, symptoms should be completely resolved 7 days after the workout (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delayed_onset_muscle_soreness).

DOMS is caused by eccentric exercise. Eccentric exercise is any exercise consisting of a muscle being stretched while it is contracting; these movements include running, jumping, lowering of weights, etc.

Eccentric contractions are the main cause of DOMS since they exert the most force on a muscle and therefore cause the most damage. DOMS can occur from Isometric exercises such as holding the weight in one spot (Static) but DOMS cannot be caused by concentric exercise where the muscle is shortened as the muscle contracts, such as lifting actions.

However, not all eccentric exercise will cause DOMS. If you are trained and very accustomed to this type of training you will most likely experience very little DOMS.

Exercising with DOMS should be avoided mainly since decreased function can cause injury when working at moderate or high intensity. However, some low intensity exercise can temporarily alleviate the soreness, even though it will cause more pain initially.

Continued use of the sore muscle also has no adverse effect on recovery from DOMS and does not exacerbate muscle damage. Any method that increases blood flow to the muscle, such as massage, hot baths, or a sauna visit may help somewhat, but cannot completely relieve DOMS.

You can try a Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory such as Aspirin or ibuprofen to temporarily reduce the muscle soreness; however these can also interfere with the healing process (Quinn, 2010).

You can try many of the active and passive recovery techniques mentioned in “Active Recovery 1 & 2 and Passive Recovery” although sometimes it’s best to just rest and wait for the pain and stiffness to resolve on its own.

DOMS is also a very hard thing to prevent. It can be prevented by limiting your workouts to only concentric and isometric exercises, or by limiting the length of the stretch in the eccentric contraction; however these methods in most cases are very impractical. Stretching before and after exercise may help to reduce DOMS but can not prevent it.

 

Sources:

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delayed_onset_muscle_soreness

Quinn, Elizabeth (2010). Preventing and treating DOMS - muscle pain and muscle soreness after exercise.     http://sportsmedicine.about.com/cs/injuries/a/doms.htm

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