D.O.M.S Only Occurs After Eccentric Muscle Contraction

This is a short post on the mechanism behind the dreaded (or often revered) Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness…better known as DOMS! Did you know that DOMS, the familiar achy sensation felt around 24-72 hours after an intense gym session is only induced by eccentric muscle contractions i.e. the elongation of the muscle whilst under tension, in other words, the muscle gets longer whilst it’s contracting.

You might be saying ‘I feel the soreness after most exercises’, but the fact is that most exercises require an eccentric muscle contraction. The basic bicep curl causes both eccentric and concentric muscle contractions during the negative and positive phase respectively, and the same goes for squats, leg extensions and lat pull downs. The point is you need to hit the muscle from all angles and in their full range of motion (as a general rule), so rarely will you not perform an eccentric contraction. However I think it’s interesting that if you were to perform the dumbbell curl and only perform the positive phase i.e. curl from the bottom of the rep, you wouldn’t suffer from DOMS. So instead of lowering it, you pass it over to your opposite hand so that you don’t have to perform the negative (lowering) phase of the movement, consequently you shouldn’t get DOMS. The fact is though, if you don’t perform both the eccentric and concentric phase of an exercise you will not fully stress the muscle, hindering your gains.


American College Of Sports Medicine, (2011). Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). Retrieved 18th December, 2013, from http://www.acsm.org/docs/brochures/delayed-onset-muscle-soreness-(doms).pdf

About the Author

Job Role Qualified Dietitian and Sports Nutritionist Qualifications BSc (Hons) Sports Science | BSc (Hons) Dietetics Tom has always participated in sport both recreationally and competitively which led to an unquenchable thirst for information on anything health, nutrition and fitness. After leaving school Tom went on to play for a football academy during which time he studied Sport and Exercise Science. From here he went on to study a BSc (Hons) Sport Science at UEA followed by his second BSc (Hons) degree, this time at the University of Hertfordshire studying Dietetics. Tom has worked in the fitness, educational and clinical nutrition industry starting out at David Lloyd Health and Leisure Clubs. He then went on to work as a Dietitian (RD) in the NHS, during which time he conducted clinics for healthy eating, weight loss and weight gain, as well as specialised consultations on Diabetes, IBS and Coeliac disease to name a few. He has vast amounts of experience at devising diet plans and supplement regimens, as well as working in the community with schools and competitive athletes. As Head Nutritionist and Supplement expert at Discount Supplements Tom is here to provide current and evidence based health and nutrition information to help you reach your health and fitness goals!
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