Journal of Applied Physiology

Effect of training on eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage

C. D. Balnave, M. W. Thompson


Eccentric muscle contractions generate delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), possibly as a result of the high tensions involved causing muscle damage. Muscle function, serum indicators of muscle damage, and DOMS were investigated throughout a training regimen that involved a 40-min eccentric walk down a 25% gradient on a treadmill at 6.4 km/h once a week for 8 wk. Serum creatine kinase and myoglobin concentrations were used as indicators of muscle damage, and both demonstrated a delayed increase after the exercise protocol. The muscles that contracted eccentrically exhibited low-frequency fatigue, as well as decreases in muscle fatigability and maximal voluntary contraction force, which were greatest immediately postexercise. Although the results show that training reduces DOMS, the serum muscle protein response, and muscle function impairment, the time courses of these adaptations are different. It is suggested that the function of the muscle can be impaired without apparent muscle damage.