DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness)
By: Marylin Salgado
April 2, 2019
What is DOMS?
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), AKA “muscle fever,” is the muscle pain and weakness that starts up to a day after unfamiliar exercise, peaking up to two days later. The strongest trigger is a lot of eccentric contraction (e.g. quadriceps while descending). – by Paul Ingraham, Vancouver, Canada. It can last 2 to 3 days after a workout and the pain will eventually decrease in intensity. Please be advised that DOMS is a serious condition to stop you from performing your activities of daily living.
DOMS is a muscle strain
The muscle suffers myofibril tears (AKA muscle strain). The damage causes an inflammatory response followed by pain. If you return to a regular workout before the DOMS has completely subsided, you can cause dangerous muscle and joint injury.
While intense and prolonged exercise is associated with DOMS, eccentric rather than concentric exercise is most directly responsible for the painful condition. – Aimee J. Frank
Eccentric exercise is the act of lengthening a muscle at the same time it is being contracted. Examples are bicep curls, downward motion of a pushup, the downward motion of a squat, or lowering a weight during a shoulder press. Concentric exercise is a contraction that shortens a muscle. With concentric exercise, you are controlling the weight against the pull of gravity. Examples are pushups, when you extend your arms and push your body away from the floor or a squat, when you extend your legs to the standing position. Eccentric exercises are thought to build muscle size and strength better, but there is the danger of DOMS if the training is not done properly.
- Weakness to the affected muscle or muscles
- Increased muscle soreness
- Severe muscle pain and joint pain
- Muscle fever or feeling of hotness at site
- Muscle cramping and fatigue
- Limited range of motion
The most common treatments are ice to the affected area, rest, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Ibuprofen. Working out the least affected muscle groups is encouraged until full recovery is obtained in the affected muscle. Eccentric exercises should be introduced slowly 1 to 2 weeks post injury. Stretching at short intervals is also recommended.
There is still ongoing research for the treatment of DOMS. Many methods tried, such as ultrasound therapy and massage have proven unsuccessful. It is recommended you stretch prior to exercise and slowly increase muscle flexibility and function. Eccentric exercises should also be performed and then intensity increased within 6 to 8 weeks to prevent injury.
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