Exercise-induced muscle damage and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS)

Document Type

Book Chapter




Cardinale, M., Newton, R., Nosaka, K


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


School of Exercise and Health Sciences




Nosaka, K. (2011). Exercise-induced muscle damage and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). In Cardinale, M., Newton, R., Nosaka, K (Eds.). Strength and Conditioning: Biological Principals and Practical Applications (pp. 461). Location: Wiley-Blackwell.


Injurious physical, chemical, or biological stressors damage skeletal muscles. The severity of muscle damage varies from micro injury of a small number of muscle fibres to disruption of a whole muscle, depending on the cause of damage. This chapter focuses on muscle damage indicated by delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS), which is the most common type of damage that we experience in our daily life and exercise. It is predominantly induced by lengthening contractions or isometric contractions at a long muscle length (Clarkson, Nosaka and Braun, 1992; Jones, Newham and Torgan, 1989). It is also known that isometric contractions evoked by electrical muscle stimulation (Aldaycl et al., 2009; Jubeau et at., 2008) induce muscle damage, especially when they are perfonned for the first time or a long time after a previous bout. Here we will describe the characteristics of the muscle damage induced by eccentric exercise of the elbow flexors. Although the elbow flexors are often used to study muscle damage, it should be noted that the muscle damage of the elbow flexors does not necessarily represent the muscle damage of other muscles. In resistance training, 'no pain, no gain' is often advocated, therefore we also discuss whether DOMS or muscle damage is necessary for maximising the effects of resistance training on muscle hypertrophy and strength gain.

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