Have you ever woken up a day or two post-exercise feeling like you have been hit by a bus, your muscles are that sore? Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) can be felt following periods of exercise or activity when the muscles are not accustomed to the increased work load.
DOMS occurs due to micro trauma to the muscle fibres as a result of increased load on the muscle, and occurs more so during eccentric exercises (when the muscle is lengthening as it is placed under load). For example, the lowering of your hand during a biceps curl is an eccentric movement of the biceps muscle. Along with the feeling of muscle soreness, you may also experience a temporary period of reduced muscle strength, reduced force production, possible swelling and reduced range of movement due to increased muscle tightness. These symptoms can occur for several days depending on the severity of the micro trauma.
Are there ways that I can avoid DOMS?
Currently there are many techniques that are being employed aiming to alleviate the delayed onset of muscle soreness.
- Massage has been proven to have positive effects on DOMS as it has been shown to reduce muscular soreness at 24 hours post-exercise and accelerates recovery. (Torres et al, 2013)
- A meta-analysis of all the available research supports the use of compression garments post-exercise for 12-72 hours. It is suggested that the compression garments reduce the severity of DOMS and accelerate the recovery and return of muscle function. (Hill et al, 2013)
- Cooling modalities and cold water emersion have also been proven to reduce the symptoms of DOMS significantly at 24 hours and 48 hours post exercise. (Hohenauer et al, 2015)
Currently there are no clinically significant outcomes for stretching pre and/or post-exercise or positive effects on DOMS.
A degree of muscular soreness is acceptable, however severe discomfort may be the result of a poor training program or errors with your exercise technique. Currently there is still much controversy regarding the existing management techniques and their efficacy in DOMS management. What is definitive however, is that correcting the technique, training volume, frequency and intensity can have a significant impact in the effective management, treatment and prevention of DOMS.
If you would like help in developing a suitable exercise program and an assessment of your technique, feel free to call us on 9420 8802 to book an appointment at Janet Brandt-Sarif Physiotherapy & Sports Injury Clinic.