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Increased muscle force does not induce greater stretch-induced damage to calf muscles during work-matched heel drop exercise
journal contributionposted on 2023-05-10, 05:42 authored by PA Pincheira, DL Mayfield, Aaron FoxAaron Fox, NAT Brown, TJ Carroll, AG Cresswell, GA Lichtwark
Purpose: To investigate the effect of muscle force during active stretch on quantitative and qualitative indicators of exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD) in the medial gastrocnemius (MG) muscle. Methods: Twelve recreationally active volunteers performed two trials of an eccentric heel drop exercise. Participants performed a single bout of low-load (body weight) and high-load (body weight + 30% body weight) exercises on separate legs. The total mechanical work output for each condition was matched between legs. Before, two hours and 48 h after each bout of eccentric exercise, electrically stimulated triceps surae twitch torque, muscle soreness, MG active fascicle length at maximum twitch torque and muscle passive stiffness were collected. Triceps surae electromyographic (EMG) activity, MG fascicle stretch and MG muscle–tendon unit (MTU) length were measured during the eccentric tasks. Results: The high-load condition increased triceps surae muscle activity by 6–9%, but reduced MG fascicle stretch (p < 0.001). MTU stretch was similar between conditions. The greater muscle force during stretch did not give rise to additional torque loss (5 vs 6%) or intensify muscle soreness. Conclusions: Adding 30% body weight during eccentric contractions has a modest impact on exercise-induced muscle damage in the medial gastrocnemius muscle. These results suggest that muscle load may not be an important determinant of stretch-induced muscle damage in the human MG muscle. The muscle investigated does exhibit large pennation angles and high series elastic compliance; architectural features that likely buffer muscle fibres against stretch and damage.