School of Medical and Health Sciences
Background The extramuscular connective tissue (ECT) has been shown to play a significant role in mechanical force transmission between musculoskeletal structures. Due to this and owing to its tight connection with the underlying muscle, the ECT may be vulnerable to excessive loading. The present study aimed to investigate the effect of eccentric elbow flexor exercise on the morphology of the biceps brachii ECT. In view of the high nociceptive capacity of the ECT, an additional objective was to elucidate the potential relationship between ECT damage and the occurrence of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Methods Eleven healthy participants (♂ = 7; 24 ± 2 years) performed fatiguing dumbbell elbow flexor eccentric exercise (EE) for one arm and concentric exercise (CE) for the other arm in random order and with random arm allocation. Before, immediately after and 24–96 h post-exercise, maximal voluntary isometric contraction torque of the elbow flexors (dynamometer), pressure pain (algometer), palpation pain (100 mm visual analog scale), biceps brachii ECT thickness and ECT/muscle mobility during passive movement (both high-resolution ultrasound) were examined. Results Palpation pain, suggestive of DOMS, was greater after EE than CE, and maximal voluntary isometric contraction torque decreased greater after EE than CE (p < .05). Relative to CE, EE increased ECT thickness at 48 (+ 17%), 72 (+ 14%) and 96 (+ 15%) hours post-exercise (p < .05). At 96 h post-EE, the increase in ECT thickness correlated with palpation pain (r = .68; p < .05). ECT mobility was not different between conditions, but compared to CE, muscle displacement increased at 24 (+ 31%), 72 (+ 31%) and 96 (+ 41%) hours post-EE (p < .05). Conclusion Collectively, these results suggest an involvement of the ECT changes in delayed onset muscle soreness.
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Human movement and performance