Partial Protection against Muscle Damage by Eccentric Actions at Short Muscle Lengths


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: May 2005 - Volume 37 - Issue 5 - pp 746-753
Basic Sciences: Original Investigations

Purpose: This study investigated the hypothesis that maximal eccentric actions at a short muscle length would fail to confer a protective effect against muscle damage induced by maximal eccentric exercise at a long muscle length.

Methods: Eleven males performed 24 maximal eccentric actions of the nondominant elbow flexors over a short extension range from an elbow joint angle of 0.87–1.74 rad (S-ECC) followed 4 wk later by eccentric actions at a long range of 2.27–3.14 rad (L-ECC). A second group of 11 males performed L-ECC on two occasions using the nondominant arm separated by 4 wk. Changes in maximal isometric strength, range of motion, upper arm circumference, muscle soreness, plasma creatine kinase and aspartate aminotransferase activities, and B-mode ultrasound images were compared between bouts and between groups by two-way repeated measures ANOVA.

Results: All measures changed significantly (P < 0.01) after the first bout; however, the effects were significantly (P < 0.01) smaller after S-ECC compared with L-ECC. The second bout resulted in significantly (P < 0.01) reduced changes in all measures compared with the first bout in the subjects who performed L-ECC on both occasions. The subjects who performed S-ECC in the first bout displayed significantly smaller changes after L-ECC than those seen after L-ECC alone, with the degree of attenuation being around 50–70%.

Conclusion: Contrary to the hypothesis, S-ECC provided partial but effective protection against L-ECC. This result suggests adaptations associated with the repeated bout effect were also produced after S-ECC, but the degree of adaptations was not as strong as that by L-ECC. Eccentric exercise at a short extension range can be used as a strategy to present severe muscle damage.

1School of Exercise, Biomedical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Western Australia, AUSTRALIA; and 2Graduate School of Integrated Science, Yokohama City University, Yokohama, JAPAN

Address for correspondence: Kazunori Nosaka, School of Exercise, Biomedical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, 100 Joondalup Drive, Joondalup, WA 6027, Australia; E-mail:

Submitted for publication November 2004.

Accepted for publication December 2004.

©2005The American College of Sports Medicine