Various treatment techniques on signs and symptoms of delayed onset muscle soreness

J Athl Train. 1996 Apr;31(2):145-52.


Eccentric activities are an important component of physical conditioning and everyday activities. Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) can result from strenuous eccentric tasks and can be a limiting factor in motor performance for several days after exercise. An efficacious method of treatment for DOMS would enhance athletic performance and hasten the return to activities of daily living. The purpose of this study was to identify a treatment method which could assist in the recovery of DOMS. In the selection of treatment methods, emphasis was directed toward treatments that could be rendered independently by an individual, therefore making the treatment valuable to an athletic trainer in team setting. DOMS was induced in 70 untrained volunteers via 15 sets of 15 eccentric contractions of the forearm extensor muscles on a Lido isokinetic dynamometer. All subjects performed a pilot exercise bout for a minimum of 9 weeks before data collection to assure that DOMS would be produced. Data were collected on 15 dependent variables: active and passive wrist flexion and extension, forearm girth, limb volume, visual analogue pain scale, muscle soreness index, isometric strength, concentric and eccentric wrist total work, concentric and eccentric angle of peak torque. Data were collected on six occasions: pre- and post-induced DOMS, 20 minutes after treatment, and 24, 48, and 72 hours after treatment. Subjects were randomly assigned to 1 of 7 groups (6 treatment and 1 control). Treatments included a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, high velocity concentric muscle contractions on an upper extremity ergometer, ice massage, 10-minute static stretching, topical Amica montana ointment, and sublingual A. montana pellets. A 7 x 6 ANOVA with repeated measures on time was performed on the delta values of each of the 15 dependent variables. Significant main effects (p < .05) were found for all of the dependent variables on time only. There were no significant differences between treatments. Therefore, we conclude that none of the treatments were effective in abating the signs and symptoms of DOMS. In fact, the NSAID and A. montana treatments appeared to impede recovery of muscle function.