The effects of three modalities on delayed onset muscle soreness

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 1994 Nov;20(5):236-42. doi: 10.2519/jospt.1994.20.5.236.


Delayed onset muscle soreness is a common problem that can interfere with rehabilitation as well as activities of daily living. The purpose of this study was to test the impact of therapeutic massage, upper body ergometry, or microcurrent electrical stimulation on muscle soreness and force deficits evident following a high-intensity eccentric exercise bout. Forty untrained, volunteer female subjects were randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups or to a control group. Exercise consisted of high-intensity eccentric contractions of the elbow flexors. Resistance was reduced as subjects fatigued, until they reached exhaustion. Soreness rating was determined using a visual analog scale. Force deficits were determined by measures of maximal voluntary isometric contraction at 90 degrees of elbow flexion and peak torque for elbow flexion at 60 degrees/sec on a Cybex II isokinetic dynamometer. Maximal voluntary isometric contraction and peak torque were determined at the 0 hour (before exercise) and again at 24 and 48 hours postexercise. Treatments were applied immediately following exercise and again at 24 hours after exercise. The control group subjects rested following their exercise bout. Statistical analysis showed significant increases in soreness rating and significant decreases in force generated when the 0 hour was compared with 24- and 48-hour measures. Further analysis indicated no statistically significant differences between massage, microcurrent electrical stimulation, upper body ergometry, and control groups.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy
  • Ergometry
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Massage
  • Muscle, Skeletal*
  • Pain / rehabilitation*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Time Factors