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Type: Journal article
Title: Motor unit activity after eccentric exercise and muscle damage in humans
Author: Semmler, J.
Citation: Acta Physiologica, 2014; 210(4):754-767
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing
Issue Date: 2014
ISSN: 1748-1708
Statement of
J. G. Semmler
Abstract: It is well known that unaccustomed eccentric exercise leads to muscle damage and soreness, which can produce long-lasting effects on muscle function. How this muscle damage influences muscle activation is poorly understood. The purpose of this brief review is to highlight the effect of eccentric exercise on the activation of muscle by the nervous system, by examining the change in motor unit activity obtained from surface electromyography (EMG) and intramuscular recordings. Previous research shows that eccentric exercise produces unusual changes in the EMG–force relation that influences motor performance during isometric, shortening and lengthening muscle contractions and during fatiguing tasks. When examining the effect of eccentric exercise at the single motor unit level, there are substantial changes in recruitment thresholds, discharge rates, motor unit conduction velocities and synchronization, which can last for up to 1 week after eccentric exercise. Examining the time course of these changes suggests that the increased submaximal EMG after eccentric exercise most likely occurs through a decrease in motor unit conduction velocity and an increase in motor unit activity related to antagonist muscle coactivation and low-frequency fatigue. Furthermore, there is a commonly held view that eccentric exercise produces preferential damage to high-threshold motor units, but the evidence for this in humans is limited. Further research is needed to establish whether there is preferential damage to high-threshold motor units after eccentric exercise in humans, preferably by linking changes in motor unit activity with estimates of motor unit size using selective intramuscular recording techniques.
Keywords: Eccentric exercise; electromyography; muscle damage; single motor unit
Rights: © 2014 Scandinavian Physiological Society
RMID: 0020137532
DOI: 10.1111/apha.12232
Appears in Collections:Physiology publications

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