Effect of vibration treatment on symptoms associated with eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


School of Exercise, Biomedical and Health Sciences


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


Unaccustomed eccentric exercise results in delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS), loss of muscle strength, reduced range of motion (ROM) and swelling. Vibration treatment has been used in physiotherapy to reduce pain and oedema, and to facilitate the repair of injured tissue. This study tested the hypothesis that vibration treatment would reduce the symptoms of muscle damage such as DOMS and swelling and enhance recovery from muscle damage induced by eccentric exercise. Each arm of 15 young men (24 +/- 3.8 yrs) performed 10 sets of 6 maximal eccentric contractions of the elbow flexors separated by 4 weeks in a counterbalanced order. One arm received a 30-minute vibration treatment at 30 minute, 1, 2, 3, and 4 days after exercise, and the other arm did not receive the treatment and was used as the control. Criterion measures consisted of maximal voluntary isometric and isokinetic strength of the elbow flexors, elbow joint angles and range of motion (ROM), upper arm circumference, muscle thickness by B-mode ultrasonography, muscle soreness, pressure pain threshold, and blood markers or muscle damage and inflammation. These measurements except for the blood measures were taken 1 day and immediately prior to exercise, and immediately, 1 hour, and 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7 days after exercise. Blood samples were taken immediately before and 4 days after exercise. To examine acute effects of the treatment, changes in the measures before and immediately after each treatment session were analyzed by a Student t-test. Changes in the measures over time were compared between arms by a two-way repeated measures ANOVA with a Tukey's post-hoc test. The results showed that compared with the control condition, the treatment condition showed significantly (P<0.05) less development and faster disappearance of muscle soreness. ‘Peak’ muscle soreness after exercise occurred 1-3 days following exercise and was 18-30% less for the treatment than the control condition, and muscle soreness disappeared completely 4 days after exercise for the treatment condition, but this was not the case for the control condition. The recovery of ROM was significantly (P<0.05) faster for the treatment condition compared with the control condition; however, no significant effects of the treatment on the recovery of muscle strength was found. Immediately after the vibration treatment, a significant (P<0.05) reduction in muscle strength and muscle soreness, an increase in pressure pain threshold and ROM, and a decrease in upper arm circumference were evident. In conclusion, these results show that the 30- minute vibration treatment was effective for attenuation of DOMS and recovery of ROM following strenuous eccentric exercise. It also provides an analgesic effect, and is effective for alleviating DOMS, and has positive effects on enhancing recovery from muscle damage. Therefore, the vibration treatment is considered as an effective intervention for DOMS and symptoms associated with eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage.

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