Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Physical Therapy (MPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Thomas Mohr


Muscles -- physiology


Delayed-onset muscular soreness (DOMS), the sensation of pain and stiffness in the muscles that occurs from 1-5 days following unaccustomed exercise, can adversely affect muscle performance, both from voluntary reduction of effort and from inherent loss of capacity of the muscles to produce force. This exercise-induced muscle damage causes a response that can be characterized by a cascade of metabolic events. Increased circulating neutrophils and interleukin-1 occurs within 24 hours after the exercise, with skeletal muscle levels remaining elevated for a much longer time. Several theories underlying the physiological mechanisms of DOMS have been proposed. The majority of evidence contradicts the 'spasm' and 'lactic acid' theories. Recent evidence indicates that ultrastructural damage to skeletal muscle may be the primary mechanism contributing to muscle soreness. The best treatment for DOMS appears to be muscular activity. Training for the specific contractile activity that causes DOMS reduces the soreness response.