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  • Writer's pictureBankstown Physiotherapy

Why do my muscles ache the day after exercise?

Article by: HealthTimes

If it has been a while since you were active or performed a certain movement, it is normal to experience muscle pain after exercising. This type of pain – called delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS – generally progresses several hours later and intensifies over the next few days.

The exercise that induces DOMS consists of eccentric (lengthening) muscle contractions in which contracting muscles are lengthened. An example of eccentric exercise is walking down a set of stairs or slope, where front thigh muscles are lengthened when supporting the body weight.

Another example is using weights, such as dumbbells. When lowering a heavy object slowly from an elbow flexed to an extend position, the muscles to flex the elbow joint perform eccentric exercise, since the external load (the dumbbell) is greater than the force generated by the muscle.

DOMS is technically considered an indicator of “muscle damage”, as muscle function decreases and, in some cases, muscle-specific proteins increase in the blood, indicating plasma membrane damage. But it appears that very few muscle fibres are actually injured or destroyed (less than 1% of total muscle fibres).

Research shoes eccentric exercise training produces greater increases in muscle strength and size when compared with concentric exercise training, but this is not necessarily associated with “muscle damage".

Although DOMS could bother you for several days after exercise, you should not be afraid. It reduces when the same eccentric exercise is repeated. If the intensity and volume of eccentric exercise are gradually increased, you can minimise DOMS.

Ken Nosaka, Professor of Exercise and Sports Science, Edith Cowan University

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