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What are some ways I can reduce delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS)?

What are some ways I can reduce delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS)?

~Johndavid Maes, and Len Kravitz, Ph.D.

Proposed Interventions
Although there has been a considerable amount of research on the treatment of DOMS, to date no one treatment has proved dominant in consistently preventing or treating DOMS. Among popular interventions are pharmacological treatments using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), therapeutic treatments utilizing physical modalities such as stretching and warm-up, and interventions using nutritional supplements. The following is a discussion and evaluation of these proposed mechanisms of treatment and the prevention of DOMS.


Benefits of Nutritional Supplementation

Nutritional supplements have also emerged as a potential treatment for DOMS. Anti-oxidant's, such as vitamins C and E, are known to reduce the proliferation of free radicals, which are thought to be generated during the inflammatory response potentially causing more damage to an affected muscle. Connolly et al. report that the effectiveness of anti-oxidant therapy has been shown to be inconsistent among several studies examining it's potential for treatment. Other nutritional supplements which have been investigated for treatment of DOMS include coenzyme-Q and L-carnitine, however neither supplement has been shown to effectively treat DOMS, and may even worsen symptoms.

Benefits of Warm-up
Unlike the use of NSAIDs and nutritional supplements, pre-exercise warm-up has been shown to be effective in reducing symptoms of DOMS. In his review, Szymanski (2001) notes that traditional warm-up before exercise has been suggested as a means of preparing the body for exercise, improving athletic performance, and reducing DOMS and associated muscle damage. Using a warm up to increase muscle temperature is thought to improve muscle function by leading to greater muscle elasticity, an increased resistance of muscle tissue to tearing, more relaxed muscles, an increased extensibility of connective tissues within muscle, and decreased muscle viscosity. This in turn allows for more efficient muscle contractions, which deliver increased speed and force. Szymanski also reports that several studies provide evidence of concentric warm-up before eccentric exercise, thus preparing the body for the stress caused by overloading the muscles with eccentric activity.