Purpose: This double-blind study investigated the effects of vitamin and mineral complex supplementation on the neuromuscular function of the knee-extensor muscles after a prolonged trail running race.
Methods: Twenty-two well-trained endurance runners took either placebo (Pl group) or vitamins and minerals (Vm group) for 21 d before the race and for 2 d after the race. Maximal voluntary contractions (MVC) and surface EMG activity of the vastus lateralis (VL) muscle were recorded before (pre) and 1 h (post), 24 h (post 24) and 48 h (post 48) after the race. Central activation ratio (CAR), neural (M-wave), and contractile (muscular twitch) properties of the quadriceps muscles were analyzed using electrical stimulation techniques.
Results: The knee-extensor MVC was significantly (P < 0.01) reduced after exercise for both groups (Vm: 36.5 ± 3.0 %; Pl: 36.9 ± 2.1%), but MVC recovery was greater for Vm than Pl after 48 h (11%, P < 0.05). The reduced MVC after exercise was associated with a significant reduction in maximal EMG normalized to the M-wave in VL muscle and in CAR for both groups. Characteristics of the muscular twitch were not significantly altered for either groups, whereas M-wave duration increased significantly (P < 0.05) after exercise.
Conclusions: The reduction of MVC immediately after the race appeared to result from peripheral mechanisms such as a failure in muscle membrane excitation and, to a lesser extent, from reduced central activation. The cause of the depressed MVC 24 h after the race seemed to be located within the muscle itself. A dietary supplementation of a vitamin and mineral complex does not attenuate the loss of contractile function immediately after the running exercise, and it may accelerate the recovery of maximal force capacity.