European Journal of Applied Physiology
School of Medical and Health Sciences
© 2020, The Author(s). Introduction: Eccentric exercise can reverse age-related decreases in muscle strength and mass; however, no data exist describing its effects on postural sway. As the ankle may be more important for postural sway than hip and knee joints, and with older adults prone to periods of inactivity, the effects of two 6-week seated isokinetic eccentric exercise programmes, and an 8-week detraining period, were examined in 27 older adults (67.1 ± 6.0 years). Methods: Neuromuscular parameters were measured before and after training and detraining periods with subjects assigned to ECC (twice-weekly eccentric-only hip and knee extensor contractions) or ECCPF (identical training with additional eccentric-only plantarflexor contractions) training programmes. Results: Significant (P < 0.05) increases in mobility (decreased timed-up-and-go time [− 7.7 to − 12.0%]), eccentric strength (39.4–58.8%) and vastus lateralis thickness (9.8–9.9%) occurred after both training programmes, with low-to-moderate weekly rate of perceived exertion (3.3–4.5/10) reported. No significant change in any postural sway metric occurred after either training programme. After 8 weeks of detraining, mobility (− 8.2 to − 11.3%), eccentric strength (30.5–50.4%) and vastus lateralis thickness (6.1–7.1%) remained significantly greater than baseline in both groups. Conclusion: Despite improvements in functional mobility, muscle strength and size, lower-limb eccentric training targeting hip, knee and ankle extensor muscle groups was not sufficient to influence static balance. Nonetheless, as the beneficial functional and structural adaptations were largely maintained through an 8-week detraining period, these findings have important implications for clinical exercise prescription as the exercise modality, low perceived training intensity, and adaptive profile are well suited to the needs of older adults.
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