Delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS is the presence of stiffness and pain on the muscles after several hours or days of unaccustomed exercise. It is also known as muscle fever. Delayed onset muscle exercise is usually felt within 24 to 72 hours after a strenuous exercise, which is not accustomed to the person. Unconventional exercise usually cause delayed onset muscle soirees because the muscles rapidly adapt in order to prevent muscle damage in times that a person exercised too much without the proper warming up or cooling down.
Delayed onset muscle soreness is also a symptom of exercised induced muscle damage. Delayed onset muscle soreness is different from acute muscle soreness, which develops during or immediately following an exercise.
Mechanism of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
Delayed onset muscle soreness develops because of the damage to the myofilaments and connective tissue of the muscles as a result of exercise. The early belief was that DOMS causes rupture of the muscle fibers, but muscle soreness was not found to be caused by a rupture within the muscle. Other hypotheses that have been refuted are the presence of lactic acid and muscle spasm in the damaged tissues, but there was no sufficient evidence to support these because lactic acid normally is released from the muscles after an hour of exercise; thereby it is not a possible cause of pain after a day of exercise. The damage to the tissues of the muscles leads to increased sensitivity of the nociceptors or the pain receptors in the muscles leading to pain when the muscles are palpated or stretched. The increased nociceptor sensitivity is due to the inflammatory response in the muscles as a result of acute injury to the tissues.
Causes of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
Delayed onset muscle soreness usually occurs following eccentric exercises. Eccentric exercises are lengthening contractions that cause the muscles to adapt to the increased in length of the muscle fibers. Isometric and concentric exercises usually do not result in DOMS.
Characteristics of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
Delayed onset muscle soreness is usually perceived as an aching and dull pain on the affected area of the body. Pain may also occur along with muscle stiffness and tenderness. Delayed onset muscle soreness usually produces muscle discomforts when the muscles are stretched, tensed or contracted and never when the muscle is at rest. The peak of delayed onset muscle soreness is 24 to 72 hours after the exercise. The symptoms usually go way within 5 to 7 days after the eclectic exercise.
DOMS is also associated with reduced rage of motion and muscle strength of the affected area in the body. Despite the presence of muscle soreness, it should still be used because activity apparently does not affect the recovery of the muscles and does not lead to further damage, although it may cause increased pain.
Prevention and Treatment of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
DOMS can be prevented by gradual increase in the intensity of the exercise program and avoid sudden strenuous exercises. Isometric and concentric exercises should also be performed instead of eccentric exercises. However, some muscles literally cannot avoid some eccentric contractions, thereby limiting the length of eccentric contractions and extensions may help prevent DOMS. Also, avoid overstretching the muscles to prevent muscle soreness.
Treatment may not be employed because it usually resolves on its own. However, if treatment is desired, one can have a sauna bath, hot bath, massage or low intensity workout in order to relieve muscle soreness.
For a personalized approach to soothe your aching muscles and joints, come by and see Dr. Mohr, your local Tampa chiropractor, for a consultation so you can start living with less pain and more mobility.