Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) and Alternative Treatments – Symphony Natural Health


Conversely, alternative therapies appear to be much more promising. Acupuncture seems to have no effects on pain threshold and muscle function – meaning one’s range of motion, pain on movement and stretching is still present; however, it proved to reduce perceived pain arising from exercise-induced muscle soreness.10 This is key since DOMS isn’t muscle injury, we just want to feel better. What is unclear though is the question of if acupuncture reduces the time of the painless period in which true injury is likely to occur. In small studies, similar results were seen with massage therapy and frequency specific microcurrent (FSM).11, 12 Earthing or grounding may actually speed healing. This is the process of reducing electromagnetic exposure by walking barefoot or using a grounding mat. However, the study was small and primarily designed to develop future research so a firm conclusion cannot be drawn yet.13

Evidence suggests that rather than inflammation, free radical damage or oxidative stress may be the root cause of DOMS14 but the administration of well-known antioxidants such as vitamin C does not appear to improve the situation and may, in fact, make things worse by slowing recovery.15 Vitamin E at higher than commonly used dosage (1000 IU) offers slightly better protection but more so in older individuals.16 The vitamin and antioxidants seem to be best consumed via foods rich in colors and flavors as the evidence so far really does not support individual antioxidants for recovery.17 Interestingly non-vitamin antioxidants such as creatine and melatonin potentially are different still providing additional, yet unexplored, benefits beyond antioxidant capacity.

Creatine, a chemical made by the human body has been studied extensively in athletic performance and is known to be depleted in individuals who are suffering from muscle soreness. In healthy individuals, creatine monohydrate may have some benefit although dose and safety have been called into question. Because safety concerns still surround it and the scientific conclusions aren’t yet firm, we recommend only using it if you are being monitored by a licensed practitioner. Finally, another antioxidant that has gained a lot of attention over the last several decades that may be helpful is green tea. Because it has so many other benefits, green tea may be a prudent intervention to slow the oxidative stress process caused by exercise soreness.

Melatonin is becoming well-known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capacity. Melatonin and exercise have reciprocal benefits. As discussed, strenuous exercise causes oxidative stress and more specifically can deplete melatonin levels. Melatonin use can increase the low levels and also combat free radical production and restore function. A group of researchers gave football players a high dose of melatonin (6mg) before a training session. None of the players fell asleep during the experiment. However, these researchers concluded that melatonin offered a significant benefit. The question we would ask is in regards to dose. Is 6 mg the appropriate dose for midday activity or would a lower dose offer similar benefits? The body actually produces 0.3mg per day (physiological dose) and research has indicated that introducing high doses such as 6mg can impact the body’s own production and receptor sites. For this reason, many experts always recommend starting with 0.3mg and potentially building up to 0.6mg or 0.9mg. In very different athlete type, runners, researchers found that the use of melatonin before exercise supported the biochemical markers of stress. Again, no runners fell asleep on the track!

Most melatonin is either derived from the pineal gland of animals such as cows or synthesized in a lab. However recently, for the first time, a source from plants has also been introduced called Herbatonin. Herbatonin is not only natural but has a very high bioavailability and naturally slow-release action, in fact, early animal studies on its use as an antioxidant are proving considerably more effective than synthetic melatonin.

Source link: by Corey Schuler, MS, DC, CNS, LN at