Submitted by: Andrew C. Fry, Ph.D., C.S.C.S.
Director - Exercise Biochemistry Laboratory
The University of Memphis
Memphis, TN 38152
August 16, 2001
The phenomenon of muscular soreness is problematic for those individuals participating in intense physical activity. This soreness, which is most obvious 24-48 hrs. after the physical activity takes place, is readily apparent in both athletes and non-athletes alike. Due to the time frame of the onset of such soreness, this condition is often termed "delayed onset muscle soreness" (DOMS). In the athletic community, activities such as long distance running and strength training alike can result in excessive muscular soreness that can interfere with the long-term training program. Likewise, such soreness is also evident among those exercising for general fitness purposes, and for those participating in therapeutic and rehabilitative exercise programs. Additionally, the problem of muscle soreness can be evident at the work site for jobs requiring high levels of stressful physical activity. In thus becomes rapidly apparent the DOMS is a problem that both athletes and non-athletes alike must deal with for successful performances.
Eccentric muscle activity (i.e., force production while the muscle is lengthening) appears to be most responsible for DOMS. As such, heavy resistance exercise, which typically includes muscle activity of this type, can result in large levels of DOMS. Those individuals who are not accustomed to vigorous physical activity (i.e., untrained) are most susceptible to DOMS. The initial exposure to such eccentric activity is consistently the most deleterious, with subsequent exposures resulting in DOMS to a lesser degree. Regardless, even among the highly trained individuals, DOMS can consistently occur whenever large volumes of eccentric muscle activity occurs. Although the extent of DOMS is attenuated among the highly trained/conditioned, it is never eliminated, and remains a potential problem. Interestingly, it is the highly trained/conditioned individual who will most often utilize high volumes of eccentric muscle activity, thus being repeatedly exposed to the problems associated with DOMS.
It has been argued that a certain degree of muscle soreness is a necessary part of the tissue remodeling occurring due to a training program. In reality, the debilitating effects of DOMS are not necessary for appropriate muscle adaptation to occur. Appropriate tissue adaptation can occur without excessive muscular soreness, thus resulting in less interference with the total training program.
To date, the primary option for those wishing to avoid the deleterious effects of DOMS has been proper exercise prescription, which is undoubtedly the most important prophylactic measure. Recently, another preventive measure has been suggested. Astaxanthin, an antioxidant compound derived from algae extract, has provided promise for the problem of DOMS. In vitro studies have suggested that astaxanthin has membrane stabilizing properties, as well as the ability to modify immune response to physical insults. Due to these properties, astaxanthin is currently being used for clinical trials among patients suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome.
To continue reading: Astaxanthin Clinical Trial for Delayed Onset Muscular Soreness