Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

Climbing stairs after a good session of squats becoming a torture to you? Can’t lift a spoon in the kitchen, after lifting those dumbbells at the gym? And what’s worse, does the pain seem to hang around for 2, even 3 days???

Do not be worried, because this pain is completely normal, and it even has a name: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS.

What is DOMS?

Any action that places unusual load on the muscles for more than a certain duration, may lead to muscle soreness. Muscle soreness, which is related with the exercise is known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. The delayed onset muscle soreness is different from the soreness or pain felt during the action or activity. DOMS is felt most intensely around 24 – 72 hours after exercise, and can produce the greatest pain.

grimacing-during-weight-training

Why does DOMS occur?

The delayed onset muscle soreness can be attributed to one or more of the following:

  • If a person is training for the first time, or starting a new exercise program which the body is not used to or familiar with.
  • If a person is training differently than the normal routine, for example, when including new exercises in the workout.
  • If a person is training with a change in the exercise intensity, which includes the amount of weight used, duration, and time – the change here is a positive change, i.e., more than the usual intensity.

Everyone must have experienced DOMS at some point, though the people who are used to training, or have been training for longer (including bodybuilders) , are probably less susceptible to it, but still experience DOMS sometimes when there is a change as mentioned above. Add a tri-set or giant set in the workout, or add a few extra pounds to the actual weights you lift , you will probably be sore in the morning.

Some people love and enjoy DOMS (very small percentage of people) because to them the pain associated with DOMS represents an effective workout.

 

What exercises cause muscle soreness and DOMS in particular?

DOMS is not linked to any specific exercise, but the muscle damage and soreness is more likely associated with the eccentric contraction (muscle length as it elongates) of workouts such as squats, the eccentric portion of bicep curls, etc.

In weight training, the eccentric movement (downward portion of the movement) is where the muscle is elongating and can cause the muscle damage. Different from this is the concentric contraction or movement, where the muscle fibers contract and crunch.

Let’s look into an example with the barbell curl: 

When the weight is lifted, the muscle contracts and shortens – concentric part of the movement or upward motion.

Handsome Muscular Male Model in a Standing Position With Perfect Body Doing Biceps Exercise

The eccentric movement is the downward motion of the movement, at this part of the movement muscle elongates and allows the muscle to stretch, this is where the muscle damage occurs.

 

Repeated bout effect and DOMS

Repeated bout effect in simple words can be described as –

“The more a person repeats an action, the lesser will be the impact on the person as he becomes used to it.”

Let’s look into an example:

When a new squat workout is performed, the body experiences a new stimulus that stresses the muscles, which results in muscle soreness. The response to the new stimulus is not the same always, and research has found that a repeated bout reduces the DOMS symptoms gradually. That is to say, the more regularly a person squats, the less soreness is experienced.

The body’s response to a stimulus is reduced with each repeated bout and this is known as repeated bout effect and this can help in reducing the DOMS.

 

How to treat DOMS?

DOMS doesn’t usually require treatment, and disappears within 3-5 days after appearing. If any treatment is desired, the following can help in minimizing the severity:

  • Gentle stretching, foam rolling, light massage, and hot/cold treatment on the sore muscles.
  • Curcumin (Turmeric) can help in reducing DOMS and help in recovery of muscle performance.

 

 

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1175380/pdf/jphysiol00418-0188.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6392811

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12641640

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25795285

-by  Nikhil K