Got Muscle Fever?

Most people have experienced a high fever; this is different. Although the term might not sound familiar, if you have ever had muscle pain, soreness, and/or stiffness roughly 24-72 hours after a new, varied, or strenuous exercise routine, the answer is yes! Muscle fever, also known as Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness (DOMS), is a normal response to the adaptation process of training.

DOMS is thought to be a result of microscopic tears within muscle fibers. Tearing can occur with any movement, but mostly during eccentric loads, when the muscle is forced to contract while it is lengthened. Examples of this include walking downstairs, jogging downhill, and the lowering phase of movements like in squats and push-ups. Soreness is felt when the muscle is either stretched, contracted, or under pressure– but not at rest.  In addition to small muscle tears, an inflammatory response, and/or swelling within the muscle, might play a role in DOMS.

In order to minimize or prevent these symptoms, gradually increase the intensity of any workout routine over a period of a several weeks.  In theory, limiting exercises to just concentric (muscle shortening) and isometric (muscle length does not change) movements is ideal; however, eccentric loading is often unavoidable, or not practical, given the choice of exercise.

If you’re past the point of no return and already sore, there is no definitive scientifically based treatment protocol; although, there are several viable options to help ease the discomfort. The key is to increase blood flow to muscles through repeated bouts of low intensity exercise only after you have fully recovered from the previous workout.   Massage, hot baths, saunas, and foam rolling will enhance blood flow as well. (Click here to learn the benefits of foam rolling.) Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (like ibuprofen and Advil) as well as nutritional supplements (like vitamin C and E) both assist in recovery. From a nutrition standpoint, fueling your body with enough protein to assist in muscle repair and growth, along with sugar (through fruits) will help the healing process.

This type of soreness should not be confused with any muscle pain or fatigue experienced during exercise, or with any strain, sprain, and/or sharp pain resulting from an acute injury. If you are unsure how to start an exercise routine that is safe and effective, or you want to learn more about DOMS, contact Dan at (978) 807-8579 or visit

One Reply to “Got Muscle Fever?”

  1. Dan- I’m so glad you posted this- I was going to give you a call to ask about this just today…I had never heard about the muscle recovery benefits of vitamin E and C, I’m going to have to try that as I’m allergic to NSAIDS (which we’ve talked about before). Thanks for the 411!

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