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Delayed onset muscle soreness



Aug 11, 2010
Delayed onset muscle soreness, also sometimes called muscle fever, is the pain or discomfort often felt 24 to 72 hours after exercising and subsides generally within two to three days. This is more commonly known as being 'stiff' the morning after a sporting activity.

The precise cause is unknown. Delayed onset muscle soreness is commonly thought to be caused by increased lactate concentrations but it has been shown that elevated levels of lactic acid rarely persist after an hour of rest.[1]


Although the precise cause is still unknown, the type of muscle contraction seems to be a key factor in the development of delayed onset muscle soreness. A recently developed theory states that delayed onset muscle soreness is caused by the breakdown of muscular fibres. This is particularly apparent in strength/resistance programs. The breakdown occurs due to stress, and allows the muscles to grow stronger and larger, as shown through hypertrophy. Exercises that involve many eccentric contractions, such as downhill running or slow "negatives" during weight training, will result in the most severe DOMS. This has been shown to be the result of more muscle cell damage than is seen with typical concentric contractions, in which a muscle successfully shortens during contraction against a load.[2]

Some research claims that delayed onset muscle soreness is not caused by the pain from damaged muscle cells, but from the reinforcement process.[3] The muscle responds to training by reinforcing itself up to and above its previous strength by increasing the size of muscle fibers (muscle hypertrophy). This reinforcement process causes the cells to swell in their compartment and put pressure on nerves and arteries, producing pain.

Training with delayed onset muscle soreness

Delayed onset muscle soreness, originally named by physiologist Sonja Trierweiler, typically causes stiffness, swelling, strength loss, and pain.[4][5] Continued exertion of sore muscles can cause further swelling and pain, and lengthen the period of muscular soreness. There is some scientific evidence that further training—a so-called second bout—has no negative effect on the reinforcement process.[6] Training in a state of constant soreness would be uncomfortable, although one may be able to adapt to it. The relationship between muscular soreness, the rest required, and hypertrophy is a contentious topic in bodybuilding. Claims that perpetual muscular soreness assures muscle growth are opposed by reports of stagnation through overtraining.

Stretching before and after exercise has been suggested as a way of reducing delayed onset muscle soreness, as have warming up before exercise, cooling down afterwards, and gently warming the area.[7] However, there is also evidence that the effect of stretching on muscle soreness is negligible.[8] Overstretching itself can cause DOMS.[9] One study suggests contrast showers as a treatment, alternating between cold and hot water; as it may increase circulation.[10]


1. DOMS at Sports Injury Bulletin
2. Roth, S. (2006, January 23). Why does lactic acid build up in muscles? And why does it cause soreness? Retrieved on July 24, 2006.
3. Yu, J., Carlsson, L. & Thornell, L.E. (2004). Evidence for myofibril remodeling as opposed to myofibril damage in human muscles with DOMS: an ultrastructural and immunoelectron microscopic study. Histochemistry and Cell Biology, 121(3),p. 219-227. link


Senior Member
Sep 9, 2015
With me it's usually a little sooner than 24 hours more like 18 19 or 20 hours later. I combat the soreness by eating a good preworkout meal like chicken or fish and rice. Then after the workout eating more healthy food within 30 minutes post workout.

Say I worked out yesterday at 5pm. Today I will make sure that I plan to eat a big healthy meal around 2pm. This is the time I notice a big hunger that needs to be fed. If this meal is tardy or skipped there will be catabolic consequences.

Over the years a couple supplements have helped me in these departments. Creatine for soreness and injectable b12 for metaboloic hunger pain & catabolic fatigue.
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Sep 30, 2015
There's nothing better than having a killer leg day, and not feeling sore the next day until late, and knowing you'll be in for it on day 2.
JR Ewing

JR Ewing

VIP Member
Nov 9, 2012
I'm always at least a little sore somewhere. Of course some muscles/groups always get extremely sore, and a few others rarely do get very sore at all.


Senior Member
Jun 11, 2011
Usually takes me a couple days to start to feel the soreness.


Senior Member
Apr 30, 2013
DOMS appears to be a product of inflammation caused by microspcopic tears in the connective tissue elements that sensitize nociceptors and thereby heighten the sensation of pain (28,42). Histamines, bradykinins, prostaglandins, and other noxious chemicals are believed to mediate discomfort by acting on type 3 and type 4 nerve afferents that transduce pain signals from muscle to the central nervous system (6). These substances increase vascular permeability and attract neutrophils to the site of insult. Neutrophils, in turn, generate reactive oxygen species (ROS),which can impose further damage to the sarcolemma (8). Biochemical changes resultant to a structural disruption of the extracellular matrix (ECM) also have been implicated to play a causative role (53). It has been proposed that damage to myofibers facilitates the escape and entrance of intracellular and extracellular proteins, whereas disturbance of the ECM promotes the inflammatory response (53).
In combination, these factors are thought to magnify the extent of soreness. In addition, DOMS can be exacerbated by edema, whereby swelling exerts increased cosmotic pressure within muscle fibers that serve to further sensitize nociceptors

There has been a lot of interest in reducing doms because of its negative effect on performance and there is some interest in curcumin of all things