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Ann Readapt Med Phys. 2004 Aug;47(6):290-8.

[Delayed post effort muscle soreness].

[Article in French]

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Service de medecine du sport, CHU Salvator, APHM, 249, boulevard Sainte-Marguerite, 13009 Marseille, France.


Muscle intolerance to exercise may result from different processes. Diagnosis involves confirming first the source of pain, then potential pathological myalgia. Delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS), commonly referred as tiredness, occurs frequently in sport. DOMS usually develops 12-48 h after intensive and/or unusual eccentric muscle action. Symptoms usually involve the quadriceps muscle group but may also affect the hamstring and triceps surae groups. The muscles are sensitive to palpation, contraction and passive stretch. Acidosis, muscle spasm and microlesions in both connective and muscle tissues may explain the symptoms. However, inflammation appears to be the most common explanation. Interestingly, there is strong evidence that the progression of the exercise-induced muscle injury proceeds no further in the absence of inflammation. Even though unpleasant, DOMS should not be considered as an indicator of muscle damage but, rather, a sign of the regenerative process, which is well known to contribute to the increased muscle mass. DOMS can be associated with decreased proprioception and range of motion, as well as maximal force and activation. DOMS disappears 2-10 days before complete functional recovery. This painless period is ripe for additional joint injuries. Similarly, if some treatments are well known to attenuate DOMS, none has been demonstrated to accelerate either structural or functional recovery. In terms of the role of the inflammatory process, these treatments might even delay overall recovery.

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