Muscle fever or Delayed onset muscle soreness (“DOMS”, to use the clinical term) is a response of the muscle to an unaccustomed exercise. Sometimes it is mistaken as a muscle strain.
DOMS occurs because of the temporary inflammation or damage to muscle fibres when they are loaded. The soreness begins a day after your exercise and usually peaks at 48 hours.
HOW and WHY does it happen?
- Concentric (muscle is in shortened position) and eccentric (muscle is in lengthened position) exercises disrupt the structure of the muscle fibre. The effect is seen more in eccentric exercises.
- Some studies have shown an increase in the muscle enzyme that causes muscle ache.
- Unaccustomed exercise can cause a build-up of metabolites (a by-product of various chemical processes within the body). This build-up will force an increased pressure on our muscle tissue, with the accumulation of fluid sensitizing the nerves.
Do I have muscle fever or muscle strain?
Muscle strain causes immediate focal pain while contracting concentrically. Whereas DOMS will build over 24 hours before disappearing after 2 to 4 days.
What can I do about DOMS?
- Active recovery: Light exercises should be performed to improve the blood flow.
- Stretching: Gentle stretches are effective. Avoid ballistic i.e fast movements while stretching.
- Foam roll: Gentle massaging effect of foam rolling may help to alleviate symptoms.
- Massage: Avoid deep tissue massage. Gentle light massage may help with the draining of metabolites in the lymphatic system.
- Wearing compression garments post-exercise can be an effective way to reduce DOMS and accelerate recovery.
- Hydration: drink sufficient fluids before, during and after exercise to reduce the likelihood of muscle fever
- The prevention of muscle fever is the very reason we are taught to perform warm-up and cool-down exercises before and after every fitness session.
DOMS is actually a positive sign that your muscle is recovering into a stronger state.
Please follow the tips to improve your symptoms and let us know how it helped.