2001 Volume 50 Issue 5 Pages 583-592
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is characterized by a sensation of discomfort that usually develops 24-48 hours after unaccustomed exercise, with muscle swelling and stiffness that usually results in a reduced range of movement. Muscle weakness is often seen. It may be surmised that DOMS is a problem that affects all athletes.
We examined six male subjects to determine the effect of acupuncture stimulation on DOMS, which was induced experimentally in both legs using a heel raising exercise. Acupuncture stimulation has long been used in the treatment of pain, but there is insufficient proof of its efficacy. A problem acupuncture research has had to face is the concept of a control group. To deal with this, we used non-invasive acupuncture stimulation, which would allow the simulation of the acupuncture procedure without penetrating the skin. The leg that would receive actual acupuncture stimulation and the leg that would receive non-invasive stimulation after the induction of DOMS were determined by randomization.
The muscle stiffness, ankle range of movement, maximal voluntary contraction, one-legged vertical jump, muscle tenderness, pain on muscle stretching, pain on muscle contraction, ankle mobility and subjective muscle strain were measured as indices of stimulation efficacy. Pain on muscle stretching was significantly less (p<0.05) at 48 hours after exercise for the side stimulated by acupuncture as compared with the side stimulated non-invasively. The other indices did not differ significantly between the side stimulated using acupuncture stimulation and the side stimulated non invasively. These results suggest that the early relief of DOMS can be achieved by acupuncture stimulation.