A man treating his DOMS using a Compex electrostimulator

Have you recently pushed your limits during an intense workout session and now feel delayed onset muscle soreness aka DOMS?

You are not alone. DOMS, the discomfort that occurs mainly 24 to 48 hours after exercise, result from small tears in muscle fibers. These tears lead to inflammed and stiff muscles.

Although DOMS is not serious, it can be quite uncomfortable and even restrict your athletic activity. The good news is that there are ways to reduce and prevent this pain. Electrostimulation, for example, uses electrical impulses to activate muscles. But how does electrostimulation work precisely? What are its benefits for DOMS? And how can you use it best? This article aims to answer all these questions to help you understand DOMS.

What Is DOMS and Why Does It Occur?

DOMS is a mild muscle pain that generally appears 24 to 48 hours after intense or unusual effort. It results from small tears in muscle fibers, causing inflammation and muscle stiffness. These microtraumas occur due to stress on the muscles, mainly during eccentric contractions when the muscle lengthens while under tension. A common example is going down the stairs, where the quads contract to control the descent while stretching under the effect of gravity. DOMS happens more with this type of contraction than with concentric contractions, where the muscle gets shorter, or isometric contractions, where it does not change length.

Differences Between DOMS and Other Muscle Pains

DOMS differs from other types of muscle pain in its length, intensity, and severity. It is normally mild, disappears without by itself in a few days, and is not caused by lactic acid, contrary to popular belief. Lactic acid, produced during anaerobic metabolism when muscles work without sufficient oxygen, is quickly removed after exercise and does not cause muscle damage.

Other more serious muscle pains require medical attention and include:

  • Cramps: Painful, involuntary, and sudden muscle contractions that can be related to dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, muscle fatigue, or underlying pathology.
  • Tightness: Persistent muscle contractions causing stiff muscles and limited movement, often caused by stress, poor posture, or overuse.
  • Strains: Partial muscle fiber tears due to excessive or abrupt stretching, causing acute pain, bruising, and swelling.
  • Muscle Tears: Complete or nearly complete muscle fiber tears following a violent effort or shock, characterised by intense pain, bruising, and functional impairment.

Electrostimulation: A Solution to Relieve DOMS

A man exercising using a Compex electrostimulator

How Does Electrostimulation Work?

Electrostimulation uses electrical impulses to induce muscle contraction. This process mimics voluntary muscle contraction, except the impulse to contract is sent by an electrostimulator rather than the brain. Connected to electrodes placed on the targeted muscle groups, the device allows, through adjusted settings, to provide various beneficial effects on the muscles.

How Does Electrostimulation Act on Sore Muscles?

Electrostimulation works on sore muscles both in terms of prevention and therapy. Preventively, it prepares muscles for effort by raising blood circulation, oxygenation, and increased muscle temperature. This process helps reduce toxins and lowers the risk of minor injuries. For treatment, electrostimulation targets slow-twitch muscle fibers, stimulating muscle regeneration, reducing inflammation, and inducing muscle relaxation.

Benefits of Electrostimulation for Muscle Recovery

Using electrostimulation for muscle recovery offers many advantages:

  • Reduction of pain and muscle stiffness
  • Acceleration of micro-damage repair
  • Improvement of flexibility and range of motion
  • Prevention of potential muscle and joint damage
  • Optimisation of athletic performance

In summary, electrostimulation proves to be both an effective and practical method for alleviating post-exercise DOMS. It can be used alone or alongside other recovery techniques such as stretching, massages, proper hydration, or an adapted diet.

Optimising the Use of Electrostimulation to Prevent and Treat DOMS

A man treating his DOMS using a Compex electrostimulator

Choosing the Right Electrostimulator

To fully benefit from electrostimulation, having the right equipment is crucial. Types of electrostimulators vary depending on the intended goal: muscle strengthening, recovery, analgesic effect, etc. It's essential to research each device's specifications, such as the number of channels, power, frequency, duration, and impulse shape. The choice of electrodes should also be suited to the targeted area, considering size, shape, and gel quality. For optimal support, it's recommended to seek advice from a healthcare professional or an electrostimulation specialist like Compex, who can provide expert advice and good training in its use. Typically, most Compex electrostimulators offer numerous recovery programs, including the "Reduction of Soreness" program, which helps prevent and limit DOMS.

Usage Tips for Maximum Effectiveness

To optimise electrostimulation use, following a few recommendations is key. First, prepare your skin by cleaning and drying it before placing the electrodes. Ensure they are well adhered to the skin, without wrinkles or air bubbles.

With a Compex electrostimulator, select the "Reduction of Soreness" program, following the device's instructions regarding electrode placement or using the Compex Coach app. Gradually adjust the impulse intensity, aiming for visible and comfortable muscle twitches without feeling pain. It's important to remain still during the session in a comfortable position. Starting this type of session within hours after an intense workout is crucial to maximise the effects. Remember to alternate electrostimulation sessions with traditional physical activities to avoid overloading the muscles and promote their recovery. For precautions and contraindications, please head to our FAQ page.


DOMS is mild muscle pain that occurs after intense or unusual physical activity. They result from small tears in muscle fibers, leading to inflammation and stiffness. Although not serious, their presence can be uncomfortable and impact performance.

In the quest to relieve soreness, electrostimulation stands out as an effective and convenient method. This technique stimulates muscles with electrical impulses to help recovery and regeneration. Its benefits are numerous, including pain reduction, higher flexibility, injury prevention, and performance improvement.

To maximise the advantages of electrostimulation, it's important to select appropriate equipment, follow usage instructions, and be aware of precautions and contraindications. Consult a healthcare professional or a specialist for support and training in its use.

What are you waiting for? Give electrostimulation a try! It's the perfect opportunity to pamper your muscles and improve your physical fitness!

A man treating his DOMS using a Compex electrostimulator

FAQs for Electrostimulation and DOMS

How to Relieve DOMS?

You can soothe DOMS using several natural and effective strategies, including:

  • Applying cold to the sore areas to reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Massaging the affected muscles with essential oils like wintergreen, lavender, or rosemary camphor, known for their anti-inflammatory and relaxing properties.

Why Do I Have a Lot of DOMS?

DOMS generally results from micro-tears in muscle fibers occurring after intense physical exercise, a viral infection, or certain medications. To alleviate them, it's crucial to stay hydrated, rest, take painkillers if necessary, and avoid anti-inflammatory drugs.

Is It Good to Exercise When You Have DOMS?

Yes, it is possible to engage in physical activity despite DOMS, provided you keep the intensity low and avoid overworking the affected muscle groups. Exercise, under these conditions, promotes toxin elimination and provides some relief while respecting the muscle fibers' healing mechanism.

Proven Effectiveness

Backed by clinical studies proving their effectiveness, Compex stimulators also belong to the category of Class II medical devices. They also meet the needs of the European Medical Standard 93/42 EEC.

Compex - Always with you

We're on the side of athletes, amateurs and also ordinary people, from the search for better performance to post injury recovery, from post fatigue massage to pain treatment. At Compex, we have just one goal: people's well being.

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