Influence of fascicle strain and corticospinal excitability during eccentric contractions on force loss
School of Medical and Health Sciences / Centre for Exercise and Sports Science Research
The study was supported by the Region Pays de la Loire (ANOPACy project, no. 2012-13467), the French Ministry of Sport (contract no. 15r16) and the Centre for Exercise and Sports Science Research at Edith Cowan University.
In this study, we investigated whether the mechanical and neural characteristics of maximal voluntary eccentric contractions would determine the extent of change in postexercise maximal voluntary isometric contraction (MVC) torque and muscle soreness. Eleven men performed 10 sets of 15 isokinetic (45 deg s−1) maximal voluntary eccentric knee extensions. Knee‐extension torque and vastus lateralis fascicle length were assessed at sets 1, 5 and 9. Vastus lateralis motor evoked potential, maximal M wave (MEP/M) and the cortical silent period (CSP) were measured at 75 and 100 deg of knee flexion (0 deg = full extension) during contractions and were normalized to MEP/M (MEP/Mecc/iso) and CSP (CSPecc/iso) recorded during isometric MVC at each angle. The MVC torque and muscle soreness of the knee extensors were assessed before, 24, 48 and 96 h after the eccentric contractions. The extent of relative decrease in MVC torque at 24 h postexercise (r2 = 0.38) and peak muscle soreness (r2 = 0.69) were correlated (P < 0.05) with MEP/Mecc/iso measured at 100 deg, but not at 75 deg. The average torque on the descending limb of the torque–angle relationship (r2 = 0.16), fascicle elongation (r2 = 0.18) and CSPecc/iso at both 75 (r2 = 0.00) and 100 deg (r2 = 0.02) were not significantly correlated with the relative decrease in MVC torque. The relative decrease in MVC torque was best predicted by a combination of mean torque on the descending limb, fascicle elongation and MEP/Mecc/iso (R2 = 0.93). It is concluded that the extent of muscle damage based on the reduction in MVC torque is determined by mechanical strain and corticospinal excitability at long muscle lengths during maximal voluntary eccentric contractions.