In Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), muscles become sore 24 to 48 hours after eccentric and unaccustomed activity. Fiber stiffness, due to decreased muscle glycogen, may predispose muscle to greater damage during eccentric exercise. This study sought to determine if inadequate carbohydrate intake following a protocol to decrease muscle glycogen would increase DOMS after 15 min of downhill running. Thirty-three male subjects (age, 18–35 years) were randomized into 3 groups for testing over a 7-day period. The depletion (DEP) group (n = 12) underwent a glycogen depletion protocol prior to a 15-min downhill run designed to induce DOMS. The repletion (FED) group (n = 10) underwent a glycogen depletion protocol followed by a carbohydrate repletion protocol (>80% CHO) prior to downhill running. The third (ECC) group (n = 11) performed only the downhill running protocol. Subjective muscle soreness, isometric force production, relaxed knee angle, and thigh circumference were measured pretreatment and on days 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 post treatment. Subjective muscle soreness for all groups increased from 0 cm pretreatment to 3.05 ± 0.72 cm (on a 10-cm scale) on day 1 post treatment (p < .05). All groups were significantly different from baseline measurements until day 4 post treatment. Each group experienced a decline in isometric force from 281 ± 45 N pre-to 253 ± 13 N on day 1 post treatment (p < .05). The decrease in isometric force persisted in all groups for 4 days post treatment. Increases in thigh circumference and relaxed knee angle elevations in all 3 groups were statistically different (p < .05) from pretreatment until day 4. No differences were noted between groups for any of the parameters examined. In the current study, 15 min of downhill running is sufficient to cause DOMS with the associated functional and morphological changes; however, inadequate carbohydrate intake after a glycogen depleting exercise does not appear to exacerbate DOMS and the associated symptoms.
The authors are with the Human Performance Research Center at Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602.