Muscle fever: A positive sign after exercise!

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.

Happy exercising!

2 thoughts on “Muscle fever: A positive sign after exercise!

  1. Monalisa Senapati

    I love the way you have explained the topic. It’s a very common topic for people who have started exercising but not many know about the details.


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