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