Background: Delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) refers to dull pain and discomfort in people after participating in exercise, sport or recreational physical activities. The aim of this study was to detect underlying mechanical thresholds in an experimental model of DOMS. Methods: Randomised study to detect mechanical pain thresholds in a randomised order following experimentally induced DOMS of the non-dominant arm in healthy participants. Main outcome was the detection of the pressure pain threshold (PPT), secondary thresholds included mechanical detection (MDT) and pain thresholds (MPT), pain intensity, pain perceptions and the maximum isometric voluntary force (MIVF). Results: Twenty volunteers (9 female and 11 male, age 25.2 ± 3.2 years, weight 70.5 ± 10.8 kg, height 177.4 ± 9.4 cm) participated in the study. DOMS reduced the PPT (at baseline 5.9 ± 0.4 kg/cm2) by a maximum of 1.5 ± 1.4 kg/cm2 (-24%) at 48 hours (p < 0.001). This correlated with the decrease in MIVF (r = -0.48, p = 0.033). Whereas subjective pain was an indicator of the early 48 hours, the PPT was still present after 72 hours (r = 0.48, p = 0.036). Other mechanical thresholds altered significantly due to DOMS, but did show no clinically or physiologically remarkable changes. Conclusions: Functional impairment following DOMS seems related to the increased excitability of high-threshold mechanosensitive nociceptors. The PPT was the most valid mechanical threshold to quantify the extent of dysfunction. Thus PPT rather than pain intensity should be considered a possible marker indicating the athletes’ potential risk of injury.
Fleckenstein, J., König, M., Vogt, L., & Banzer, W. (2017). The pain threshold of high-threshold mechanosensitive receptors subsequent to maximal eccentric exercise is a potential marker in the prediction of DOMS associated impairment. PLoS ONE, 12(10). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0185463