It is unclear exactly what the purpose of this pain is, as it is most intense 24-48 hours following an intense exercise session. However, we do know that muscles experiencing DOMS show signs of microtears throughout the tissues and the effects are worse following eccentric (controlled extension) exercises more than other types.
While DOMS is not indicative of any serious injury and has no lasting side effects, it can be very uncomfortable and is problematic for anyone who needs to perform again quickly, such as an athlete in a tournament stretching over a few days.
A person suffering from DOMS may also be at a higher risk of injury if they continue to play sport at their usual level. Understandably, many people are interested in how to avoid or reduce the effects of DOMS.