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  • Writer's pictureRobin R Varghese, PT.

Achiness after exercise? Don't Panic. Have you heard of DOMS?

DOMS ( Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness)

  • Have you often wondered why your muscle aches a day after unfamiliar and unaccustomed intense exercise?

  • This sore, achy and painful feeling of your muscle is called as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS.

  • It is also called as Muscle fever.

  • DOMS is considered a type 1 muscle strain injury

  • Muscle soreness peaks between 24-72 hours

Causes of DOMS

DOMS is thought to be due to temporary muscle damage and inflammation for which the most common trigger appears to be eccentric exercises.

What exactly happens within the muscle?

  • DOMS is more intense with eccentric than concentric forms of activity

  • During an eccentric muscle contraction, the structural elements of the muscle and connective tissue undergoes great amount of disruption.

  • During an eccentric contraction, only a few motor units get recruited.

  • The force generated gets distributed only over a smaller cross sectional area of the muscle.

  • This leads to an increase in tension per unit area, causing greater injury to the tissue.

Why does the pain begin after 12-24 hours of injury?

  • The pain free period indicates that DOMS isn’t solely due to myofibrillar disruptions but has other underlying causes.

  • The initial trauma or muscle damage or injury leads to an inflammatory cascade. This induces secondary damage.

  • Neutrophils and proinflammatory macrophages are important in the removal of cell debris through phagocytosis. But They can cause collateral damage. Excess production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) denatures the proteins, lipids and nucleic acids of the healthy cells. These happen within 12-24 hours, due to which one experiences the pain.

How can we treat DOMS?

  • DOMS generally gets better on its own after a few days to a week.

  • Yet, range of motion and muscle performance can be reduced.

  • When administered within 2 hours of activity, the mechanical pressure is believed to decrease the neutrophil migration and thus reduce the inflammatory process within the muscle structure. Therefore soft tissue manipulations and manual therapy techniques by your physical therapist can relieve the pain.

  • Evidence suggests the use of the following methods to reduce the duration of DOMS:

-Anti-inflammatory medications

- Manual therapy

-Compression garments



So, is exercising bad? Should one avoid exercises as it can hurt?

  • Not at all! DOMS is a normal part of a your new exercise program.

  • Your physical therapist can help you differentiate muscle soreness from other types of pain.

  • Please remember that the severity of the soreness is not related to the extent of the exercise-induced muscle damage.

At Valley Healing Hands, Brownsville, Texas, we provide the best physical therapy treatment for DOMS and all types of Exercise induced injury. Our therapist are highly skilled and will be eager to share our knowledge about what exercises will best suit you as well as, guide you to how to initiate and progress your exercise regime. We will also use our expertise in treating you and relieving you from your pain if you are going through DOMS .Check out what our patients have to say about us and reach out to us for an evaluation. Our patients love our services and you too will!

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