Exercise is life, but at times, it can come with a painful price if we don’t manage it adequately.
Today, we are looking at;
What can I do to prevent muscle soreness (DOMS) after exercise?
Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is a common result of physical activity that stresses the muscle tissue beyond what it is accustomed to, which can usually last between 24 and 48 hours. In some instances, DOMS can even last longer, depending on the intensity of exercise and fitness level of the individual.
The key question is: what can one do to prevent DOMS post-exercise or training? Earlier evidence suggests that the preventing DOMS can be done by adapting the muscle to eccentric stress before exercise (Sayers & Dannecker, 2004). It was also demonstrated that vibration training (VT) before eccentric exercise may prevent and control DOMS (Bakhtiary et al. 2006). No conclusive evidence regarding VT was shown, as the stability, effectiveness and reliability require verification in further studies.
Two decades ago, several studies had demonstrated that massage therapy may be promising in alleviating symptoms of DOMS (Ernest, 1998; Smith et al., 1994). Another study also showed that although massage was effective in alleviating DOMS by approximately 30% and reducing swelling, there were no effects on muscle function (Zainuddin et al., 2005).
There was also a study comparing the effects of vibration therapy and massage in the prevention of DOMS. It was concluded that vibration therapy and massage are equally effective in preventing DOMS. Massage is shown to be effective in the restoration of concentric strength (1 RM). However, vibration therapy shows clinically early reduction of pain and is effective in decreasing the level of lactate dehydrogenase in 48 hours post-exercise periods (Imtiaz et al., 2014).
Other modalities for prevention
Cryotherapy, stretching (which does not produce clinically important reductions of DOMS; Herbert et al., 2011), homoeopathy, ultrasound and electrical current modalities have demonstrated no effect on the alleviation of muscle soreness or other DOMS symptoms (Cheung et al., 2003). Exercise in itself has shown to be the most effective means of alleviating pain during DOMS. Although certain medications have also shown some promise for severe forms of DOMS, the analgesic effect is, however, temporary (Cheung et al., 2003). There have also been implausible effects of supplementation in preventing DOMS.
Take home message
All of our bodies will respond differently due to the vast number of factors that are involved when exercising. There is no one-size-fits-all approach or quick fix when it comes to preventing DOMS. It is advised that one pays careful attention and listens to their body frequently. This will guide and determine an effective approach in training smarter and preventing DOMS (as well as a potential injury or musculoskeletal pain).
Bakhtiary, A.H., Safavi-Farokhi, Z. and Aminian-Far, A., 2007. Influence of vibration on delayed onset of muscle soreness following eccentric exercise. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 41(3), pp.145-148.
Cheung, K., Hume, P.A. and Maxwell, L., 2003. Delayed onset muscle soreness. Sports Medicine, 33(2), pp.145-164.
Ernst, E., 1998. Does post-exercise massage treatment reduce delayed onset muscle soreness? A systematic review. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 32(3), pp.212-214.
Herbert, R.D., de Noronha, M. and Kamper, S.J., 2011. Stretching to prevent or reduce muscle soreness after exercise. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (7).
Imtiyaz, S., Veqar, Z. and Shareef, M.Y., 2014. To compare the effect of vibration therapy and massage in the prevention of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research: JCDR, 8(1), p.133.
Sayers, S.P. and Dannecker, E.A., 2004. How to prevent delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) after eccentric exercise. International Sports Med Journal, 5(2), pp.84-97.
Smith, L.L., Keating, M.N., Holbert, D., Spratt, D.J., McCammon, M.R., Smith, S.S. and Israel, R.G., 1994. The effects of athletic massage on delayed onset muscle soreness, creatine kinase, and neutrophil count: a preliminary report. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 19(2), pp.93-99.
Zainuddin, Z., Newton, M., Sacco, P. and Nosaka, K., 2005. Effects of massage on delayed-onset muscle soreness, swelling, and recovery of muscle function. Journal of Athletic Training, 40(3), p.174.