Exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle, but it can also lead to muscle pain and discomfort, particularly after performing new or intense physical activities. Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is a common phenomenon that affects individuals who engage in physical activity and exercise, especially those that involve eccentric muscle contractions. In this blog post, we will explore what DOMS is, its causes, and effective management strategies for reducing its impact.
What is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness?
DOMS is a type of muscle soreness that develops 24 to 72 hours after physical activity or exercise and can last for several days. It is characterised by muscle pain, stiffness, and decreased range of motion, and is often accompanied by swelling and tenderness in the affected area. DOMS is commonly experienced by people who engage in activities such as weightlifting or running.
What Causes DOMS?
The exact causes of DOMS are not fully understood, but it is believed to result from microscopic damage to muscle fibres caused by eccentric contractions, which involve lengthening the muscle while it is under tension. The severity of DOMS is influenced by various factors, including the intensity and duration of physical activity or exercise, the type of exercise, and the individual’s level of physical fitness. Research has also shown that DOMS may be associated with a temporary decrease in muscle strength, power, and endurance, potentially affecting performance in physical activities.
Effective Management Strategies for DOMS
While DOMS is a natural part of the muscle repair process, it can be uncomfortable and affect an individual’s physical performance. However, there are several effective management strategies for reducing its impact, including:
1. R.I.C.E. Method: Rest, ice, compression, and elevation can help reduce swelling and pain associated with DOMS. Applying ice to the affected area for 20-30 minutes at a time, several times a day, can help reduce swelling and pain.
2. Gentle Stretching and Light Exercise: Gentle stretching and light exercise can help improve circulation, reduce muscle stiffness, and promote muscle repair.
3. Massage Therapy: Massage therapy has been studied as a potential intervention for reducing DOMS, with some studies finding positive effects.
DOMS is a common phenomenon experienced by individuals engaging in physical activity and exercise, particularly those that involve eccentric muscle contractions. It is characterised by muscle pain, stiffness, and decreased range of motion, and is believed to result from microscopic damage to muscle fibres caused by eccentric contractions. Effective management strategies for DOMS include the R.I.C.E. method, gentle stretching and light exercise, and massage therapy. Further research is needed to fully understand the causes of DOMS and to determine the most effective interventions for reducing its impact.
In conclusion, it is important for individuals to understand DOMS and its causes in order to minimise its impact on their physical activity and exercise. Incorporating effective management strategies into your exercise routine can help reduce the severity of DOMS and promote a faster recovery. So, next time you experience muscle pain and discomfort after exercising, remember that DOMS is a natural part of the muscle repair process, and with proper care, it can be managed effectively.
1) Behm, D. G., & Meeuwisse, W. H. (1996). Prevention and treatment of delayed onset muscle soreness. Sports Medicine, 21(2), 154-164. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12617692/
2) Clarkson, P. M., & Sayer, H. A. (1992). Muscle function after exercise-induced muscle damage and rapid adaptation. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 24(11), 1192-1198. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1569847/
3) Friden, J. (1983). Mechanisms of eccentric contraction-induced injury in skeletal muscle. Acta Physiologica Scandinavica, 119(4), 397-404. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10668762/