Effects of local pressure and vibration on muscle pain from eccentric exercise and hypertonic saline

Pain. 2003 Oct;105(3):425-35. doi: 10.1016/s0304-3959(03)00257-4.


In human subjects the triceps surae of one leg was exercised eccentrically by asking subjects to walk backwards on an inclined treadmill. Before the exercise controlled local pressure, applied to the muscle with an electromagnet, produced mild soreness, which was reduced when the pressure was combined with vibration. When delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) had set in, 24-48 h after the exercise, vibration increased pain from local pressure. Vibrating at different frequencies suggested 80 Hz as the optimal frequency. During 2-h testing post-exercise, evidence of a change in character of the effects of vibration was first detected at 6 h. It persisted up to 72 h post-exercise. When muscle pain was generated in an unexercised triceps by injection of hypertonic (5%) saline, controlled local pressure applied to the sore area increased pain levels by 32% while pressure plus vibration reduced this to 11%. In a subject with DOMS, local pressure again increased pain from saline by 32% but combining it with vibration increased pain further by an additional 20%. The effect of vibration on DOMS could be abolished with a large nerve fibre block applied to the sciatic nerve. It is concluded that the vibration effects are the result of stimulation of large-diameter mechanoreceptive afferents in the muscle which, it is speculated, play a role in generating DOMS.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Exercise Test / methods*
  • Humans
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology*
  • Pain Measurement / methods*
  • Pain Threshold / drug effects
  • Physical Stimulation / methods
  • Saline Solution, Hypertonic / toxicity*
  • Vibration / adverse effects*


  • Saline Solution, Hypertonic