Comparison of different heat modalities for treating delayed-onset muscle soreness in people with diabetes

Diabetes Technol Ther. 2011 Jun;13(6):645-55. doi: 10.1089/dia.2011.0002. Epub 2011 Apr 2.


Background: Delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is a serious problem for people who do not exercise on a regular basis. Although the best preventive measure for diabetes and for maintaining a low hemoglobin A1c is exercise, muscle soreness is common in people with diabetes. For people with diabetes, DOMS is rarely reported in exercise studies.

Research design: One hundred twenty subjects participated in three groups (young, older, and type 2 diabetes) and were examined to evaluate the soreness in the abdominal muscles after a matched exercise bout using a p90x exercise video (Beachbody LLC, Los Angeles, CA) for core fitness. Next, three heating modalities were assessed on how well they could reduce muscle soreness: ThermaCare(®) (Pfizer Consumer Healthcare, Richmond, VA) heat wraps, hydrocollator heat wraps, and a chemical moist heat wrap.

Results: The results showed that people with diabetes were significantly sorer than age-matched controls (P < 0.05). On a 100-mm VAS (100 mm = sorest), the average soreness for the people with diabetes was 73.3 ± 16.2 mm, for the older group was 56.1 ± 15.1 mm, and for the younger group was 41.5 ± 9.3 mm; these differences were significant (analysis of variance, P < 0.05). The greatest reduction in soreness after applying the modalities was using moist heat, both immediately after the modality and up to 2 days after the exercise. Right after the modality, moist heat reduced pain by 52.3% in the older subjects compared with 30.5% in the subjects with diabetes and 33.3% in the younger subjects. Skin blood flow in the abdominal area before exercise was greatest in the younger subjects and lower in the subjects with diabetes after heat application. Skin temperature at rest and after exercise was greatest in the diabetes group.

Conclusions: Muscle soreness following exercise was greatest in people with diabetes, and the best modality of the three studied to reduce this type of soreness was chemical moist heat.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain / therapy*
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications*
  • Exercise
  • Hot Temperature / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscular Diseases / therapy*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Regional Blood Flow
  • Skin / blood supply
  • Skin Temperature
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult