Negative Psychological Factors’ Influence on Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness Intensity, Reduced Cervical Function and Daily Activities in Healthy Participants

Published:January 09, 2022DOI:


      • Influence of negative psychological factors on DOMS intensity and cervical function was examined.
      • Psychological distress predicted DOMS intensity and loss of cervical function after DOMS induction.
      • Kinesiophobia/catastrophizing did not predict loss of function or cervical DOMS after its induction.
      • The protocol used generated loss of cervical function and also cervical DOMS, especially at 24hour.
      • High levels of distress may be a risk factor for chronification of symptoms caused by acute injury.


      We examined the influence of negative psychological factors (catastrophizing, distress and kinesiophobia) on delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) intensity, cervical function (strength and range of motion) and on daily activities (ADL), and the suitability of an exercise protocol designed to induce DOMS within the cervical region. Psychological factors and cervical function were assessed in 86 healthy participants at baseline before applying a DOMS provocation protocol in the cervical flexor muscles. After 24hour, cervical function was reassessed. In addition, at 24hour and 48hour, the intensity of DOMS and its impact on ADL were assessed using the visual analog scale (VAS). The protocol was effective given that it generated low-moderate intensity DOMS (VAS≈30 –40mm) and a statistically significant reduction in cervical strength and range of motion. Psychological distress (anxiety and depression), but not kinesiophobia and catastrophism, predicted a loss of cervical strength (explained 43% of the variance) and range of motion (explained 22% of the variance) after induction of DOMS. In addition, participants’ anxiety level predicted DOMS intensity at 24hour (explained 19% of the variance).


      The present findings highlight the relevance of evaluating psychological distress as a preventive/therapeutic measure, given that high levels of distress could lead to more intense and disabling pain in acute injuries, and all these aspects are considered risk factors for the chronification of symptoms.

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