Many of us exercise only to note postexercise soreness. Why does this occur? The following study sheds some light.
In this study symptoms of exercise-induced muscle damage after an initial and repeated bout of plyometric exercise (repeated muscle contractions and stretching to increase muscle power) in men and boys were compared. Ten boys (9-10 yr) and 10 men (20-29 yr) completed two bouts of eight sets of 10 plyometric jumps, 2 wks apart. Perceived soreness (0-10, visual analog scale), isometric strength of the quadriceps at six knee flexion angles, and countermovement jump and squat jump height were assessed before and at 30 min, 24 h, 48 h, and 72 h after each bout.
All variables followed the expected patterns of change in men, with soreness peaking at 24-48 h (5.8 +/- 1.7) and decrements in muscle function peaking at 30 min after the first bout (73-85% of baseline scores).
Symptoms remained for 72 h after the first bout in men. In boys, symptoms were much less severe and peaked at 30 min (visual analog scale = 2.1 +/- 1.8, functional decrements 87-92% of baseline) and, with the exception of soreness, returned to baseline after 24 h.
After the second bout of plyometric exercise, the level of soreness and decrements in countermovement jump, squat jump, and isometric strength were lower, although the effect was stronger in men, in all cases.
The results suggest that although children may experience symptoms of muscle damage after intensive plyometric exercise, they are much less severe. A prior bout of plyometric exercise also appears to provide children with some protection from soreness after a subsequent bout of plyometric exercise.
Explanations for milder symptoms of exercise-induced muscle damage in children include greater flexibility leading to less overextension of sarcomeres during eccentric exercise, fewer fast-twitch muscle fibers, and greater and perhaps more varied habitual physical activity patterns.
Marginson V, Rowlands AV, Gleeson NP, Eston RG: Comparison of the symptoms of exercise-induced muscle damage after an initial and repeated bout of plyometric exercise in men and boys. Journal of Applied Physiology. 99(3):1174-81, 2005 Sep