Any exercise can cause DOMS when you start a new routine or increase the intensity, but exercises that require eccentric muscle contraction, in particular, are more likely to cause DOMS. Eccentric contraction is the muscle’s contraction to bear load against gravity while being lengthened.
Following are some examples of eccentric muscle contraction:
- The controlled lowering of the arm in weight training exercises such as bicep curls
- Downhill running when the quads lengthen and brace against gravity
- Downward motion in squats
- Downward motion in pushups
Concentric contraction, on the other hand, is contraction while the muscle is shortened. Eccentric contraction is a more efficient way than concentric contraction to exercise a muscle because it uses less energy to work harder. Though beneficial, eccentric concentration is also more likely to cause DOMS because it places more stress on the muscle.
What is DOMS?
Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is the muscle pain you feel after a workout. DOMS does not occur during a workout but typically starts after a day, peaks after 24 to 72 hours, and starts easing up after that. DOMS may last up to five days, and anything longer is not normal.
What is the main cause of DOMS?
The main cause of DOMS is a combination of microscopic tears in the muscle fibers that result from a workout and the muscle’s response to repair the damage. Tiny muscle tears occur when muscles are stressed more than they are used to, or in a new way. The muscle tissue releases enzymes to repair the tears, which results in inflammation and soreness.
Contrary to a belief earlier held, the lactic acid buildup can cause pain during a workout, but it is not the cause of DOMS. Lactic acid builds up when the muscle does not get enough oxygen to break it down, which causes cramps and muscle fatigue. The pain goes away in a few hours with rest and hydration, unlike DOMS which occurs later and lasts longer.
DOMS can happen to anyone, regardless of fitness levels, when the muscles are challenged in a way they are not accustomed to. Even elite athletes can develop DOMS when they start training after a break, or when they increase their training intensity.
Is DOMS a good sign?
Muscle soreness is commonly equated with a good workout, but DOMS need not always be a good sign. Soreness does indicate that the muscle has been worked, which encourages and motivates you to continue with the activity, but it is also important to be aware of how much soreness is beneficial. If it makes you too sore to carry on with your daily activities, it is too much.
Muscle strength grows with exercise even if you do not feel any soreness. Excessive or persistent soreness is detrimental to muscle recovery and can, in fact, negate the benefit from exercise and affect your athletic performance. If ignored, persistent soreness can also damage the capacity of the muscle to repair and grow strong.
Is it okay to work out through DOMS?
Soreness from DOMS is temporary and it is perfectly fine to work out through DOMS so long as the ache is moderate. Keeping those muscles active, in fact, is beneficial because it improves the blood supply and speeds up healing. You can do gentle exercises like walking or swimming until the soreness subsides or rest for a day or so if activity increases the pain.
How do you prevent DOMS?
It may not be possible to prevent DOMS, but you can reduce the severity by gradually increasing the intensity when you start a new exercise routine. Warming up before, and cooling down, and stretching after an intensive workout can greatly help in relaxing the muscles and reducing soreness.
Varying your daily workout routine by cross-training with exercises that engage different groups of muscles may be another good way to handle DOMS. Cross-training allows your muscles recovery time between workouts, without disrupting your training.
How do you treat DOMS?
DOMS usually does not require treatment and will go away on its own. The best thing for DOMS is to keep those muscles moving unless the pain is intolerable. Other things that can help reduce DOMS include:
- Gentle massage to relax the muscles and improve their blood flow.
- Use of a foam roller which can loosen up the knotted muscles.
- Wearing compression clothing, which many athletes say improves blood flow and reduces pain, though there is no conclusive evidence for this.
- Applying ice packs that can numb the nerve endings in the muscle.
- Alternating hot and cold showers.
- Topical application of pain-relief balms.
Current research suggests non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Aleve and Motrin are not effective for DOMS. Further, preventing inflammation with NSAIDs is self-defeating the purpose of the exercise, because Inflammation is the central process in muscle growth and strengthening.
- You should, however, see a doctor if:
- You have unbearable pain
- Your pain lasts longer than a week
- You have swelling in the arms and legs
- Your urine becomes dark despite hydration
Latest Health and Living News
Daily Health News
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top What Type of Exercise Causes Doms? Related Articles
Can a Chest Muscle Strain Feel Like a Heart Attack?Chest muscle strains can cause sudden, acute pain that feels like a heart attack. Learn the signs of a chest muscle strain, what causes it, how doctors diagnose it, and what you can do to treat it.
Diabetes & WeightsWatch this slideshow on Diabetes and Exercise. If you have diabetes, see how strengthening your muscles with these 10 weight training exercise moves can help control your blood sugar.
How Long Does It Take for a Muscle Strain to Heal?A muscle strain occurs when muscle fibers are overstretched and tear. Learn more about muscle strains, how muscle strains happen, muscle strain symptoms, muscle strain diagnosis, and muscle strain treatment options.
Is a Muscle Strain the Same as a Muscle Tear?What is the difference between a muscle strain and a muscle tear?
Is Muscle Twitching Normal After Exercise?Many people find that their muscles twitch after exercise. Learn the signs of muscle twitches, what causes muscle twitches, how doctors diagnose muscle twitches, and what you can do to treat muscle twitches.
Muscle CrampsMuscle cramps are involuntarily and forcibly contracted muscles that do not relax. Extremely common, any muscles that have voluntary control, including some organs, are subject to cramp. Since there is such variety in the types of muscle cramps that can occur, many causes and preventative medications are known. Stretching is the most common way to stop or prevent most muscle cramps.
Muscle Cramps (Charley Horse) and Muscle SpasmsWhat are the differences between muscle spasms and cramps? Learn about the causes of muscle spasms and cramps (charley horse) in the calf, leg, and more.
Muscle Cramps: Foods That Help and Prevent CrampingOne way to prevent muscle cramps is to get enough of these nutrients: potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium. They’re called electrolytes, and you can find them in these foods.
Muscle SpasmsMuscle spasms are involuntary muscle contractions that come on suddenly and are usually quite painful. Dehydration, doing strenuous exercise in a hot environment, prolonged muscle use, and certain diseases of the nervous system may cause muscle spasms. Symptoms and signs of a muscle spasm include an acute onset of pain and a possible bulge seen or felt beneath the skin where the muscle is located. Gently stretching the muscle usually resolves a muscle spasm.
Men's Muscle-BuildingWant bulging biceps and a bigger chest? Our experts demonstrate the right moves to help men build bigger muscles with just two efficient workouts each week.
Is a Muscle Cut Necessary During a Submuscular Breast Augmentation?Submuscular breast augmentation surgery involves changing the shape of the breasts and enlarging them by placing an implant below the breast muscles. The muscles are spread apart to accommodate the implant, but the surgeon does not cut through them. This preserves the insertion of the breast muscles at the sternum.
What Are Muscle Biopsy and Clinical and Laboratory Features of Neuromuscular Disease?When a clinical diagnosis of a neuromuscular disorder (Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, multiple sclerosis, etc.) is considered, a muscle biopsy is often required for definitive diagnosis. A muscle biopsy is sometimes indicated for diagnosing various systemic disorders that also present with skeletal muscle tissue pathology. The surgical procedure to obtain a muscle biopsy is relatively simple and poses little risk to the patient. Uncommon complications are infection and a possibility of infection after the procedure.
What Causes Pain in the Trapezius Muscle?Trapezius or ‘trap’ muscle pain is often known as acute or severe pain that affects a number of small muscles in the upper back and neck.
When Should I Worry About Muscle Twitching?What is muscle twitching, and how do you recognize it? Muscle twitching is a common issue that affects many people. Learn the signs of muscle twitching, what causes it, when to see a doctor, and how to treat it.