by Christine on April 21st, 2010
What are DOMS?
Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is that achy, sore feeling you get the day after a strenuous workout. The cause of DOMS is actually unknown, but scientists think that they are caused by a breakdown of muscle fibers; this is particularly true when one is doing weight-training exercises. Other research claims that the soreness comes not from the damage process but from the rebuilding process. Either way, the exact cause is unknown.
DOMS is most common for those beginning an exercise program or working new muscle groups. For example, someone new to doing situps will experience DOMS the next day while someone experienced at situps will not unless he or she over-trains.
You don’t have to get DOMS in order to get an effective workout. Highly-trained athletes rarely get DOMS because they are in such good condition. However, I personally see the DOMS as an indication that I did indeed get a workout. It’s like somewhat-instant gratification – your body says “YES! You kicked my butt! Way to go!” Perhaps that’s just an aspect of my “no pain, no gain” personality. I get DOMS most often when I lift weights “to failure,” when I climb a LOT of stairs, or do a ton of squats/lunges. Most body-building forums that I have read seem to seek DOMS out like a special prize. However, at least one article I read said that DOMS can be an indication of poor form and should NOT be sought after. I’m a little unclear about the safety of DOMS, but they haven’t killed me yet.
In reading up about DOMS, I came across articles about eccentric muscle contractions and concentric muscle contractions. Apparently eccentric muscle contractions can lead to bigger (and better) DOMS. I didn’t know anything about these terms and wanted to delve into further study, primarily so I can figure out to have more DOMS after my workouts!
Eccentric muscle contractions are an overall lengthening of muscles as it develops tension and contracts to control motion performed by an outside force. Muscles suffer greater damage when you employ eccentric muscle contractions than the opposite (concentric muscle contractions). An example of an eccentric bicep contraction would be a reverse bicep curl, or the act of setting a heavy object down gently. Other exercises include going down stairs, running downhill, the downward motion of squats, pushups or pull-ups.
Concentric Muscle Contractions
Concentric muscle contractions are a shortening of the muscle as it develops tension and contracts to move a resistance. An example of a concentric bicep contraction would be a bicep curl, squat, or pull=-up. Running up-hill or climbing stairs causes the quadriceps to contract. These are most common types of muscle contractions used in a gym when lifting weights but do not often generate the bigger DOMS.
There are no proven methods for getting rid of DOMS once they have come around. You primarily need to let them run their course. However, some home-remedies for making the DOMS less severe include:
- Taking an ice bath
- Using the RICE method of treating injuries
- Eat protein-rich foods 30 minutes following the exercise