UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Orthopedics

Title: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

Keywords: Muscle pain, exercise (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/28/2018 by Brian Corwell, MD (Updated: 12/10/2018)
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Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), aka “muscle fever”

Muscle pain and weakness following unfamiliar exercise

Occurs after high force, novel (unaccustomed) eccentric muscle contractions

               Occasionally isometric in an extended position

Eccentric exercise – controlled elongation

Slowly lowering yourself to start position doing pullups for example

Time of onset

Begins 6 to 12 Hours after exercise, Peaks 2-3days post and resolves in 5-7 days

               Speed of onset and severity are often related

How do you know if you have it?

Much like the flu, you know it when you have it. The simple act of getting out of a car, sitting down or walking down stairs is excruciatingly painful.

Cause:

Exact cause is unknown. Thought to be due to sarcolemma damage leading to intra cellular calcium release and activation of proteolytic enzymes. Creatine kinase leaks from muscle cells into plasma attracting inflammatory cells.

Treatment:

Best treatment is prevention: Repeated bout effect – a bout of eccentric or isometric exercise can prevent DOMS from the same exercise for 4-12 weeks.

               Stretching before exercise has not been shown to be effective prevention

Other modalities: rest, ice, heat, massage, electrical stimulation

Take home:

Eccentric exercises or novel activities should be introduced progressively over a period of 1 or 2 weeks at the beginning of the sporting season or the start of a new, novel exercise routine. For example, not starting the Insanity day one workout without “pretraining.” This will reduce the level of physical impairment and/or training disruption and lead to gains with much less pain.