European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 94, Issue 5–6, pp 652–658 | Cite as

The effects of exercise-induced muscle damage on maximal intensity intermittent exercise performance

  • Craig Twist
  • Roger Eston
Original Article


Exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD) is a common occurrence following activities with a high eccentric component. Alterations to the torque–velocity relationship following EIMD would appear to have serious implications for athletic performance, particularly as they relate to impairment of maximal intensity exercise. However, this has been studied infrequently. The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of EIMD on maximal intermittent sprint performance. Ten male participants (age 22.4±3.2 years, height 178.6±5.2 cm, mass 80.6±10.7 kg) performed 10×6 s cycle ergometer sprints, interspersed with 24 s recovery against a load corresponding to 0.10 kp/kg and 10×10 m sprints from a standing start, each with 12 s active (walking) recovery. All variables were measured immediately before and at 30 min, 24, 48 and 72 h following a plyometric exercise protocol comprising of 10×10 maximal counter movement jumps. Repeated measures ANOVA showed significant changes over time (all P<0.05) for perceived soreness, plasma creatine kinase activity (CK), peak power output (PPO), sprint time and rate of fatigue. Soreness was significantly higher (P<0.01) than baseline values at all time intervals (3.1, 4.9, 5.5 and 3.2 at 30 min, 24, 48 and 72 h, respectively). CK was significantly elevated (P<0.05) at 24 h (239 IU/l) and 48 h (245 IU/l) compared to baseline (151 IU/l). PPO was significantly lower (P<0.05) than baseline (1,054 W) at all time intervals (888, 946, 852 and 895 W, at 30 min, 24, 48 and 72 h, respectively). The rate of fatigue over the ten cycling sprints was reduced compared to baseline, with the greatest reduction of 48% occurring at 48 h (P<0.01). This was largely attributed to the lower PPO in the initial repetitions, resulting in a lower starting point for the rate of fatigue. Values returned to normal at 72 h. Sprint times over 10 m were higher (P<0.05) at 30 min, 24 h and 48 h compared to baseline (1.96 s) with values corresponding to 2.01, 2.02 and 2.01 at 30 min, 24 h and 48 h, respectively. Values returned to baseline by 72 h. The results provide further evidence that, following a plyometric, muscle-damaging exercise protocol, the ability of the muscle to generate power is reduced for at least 3 days. This is also manifested by a small, but statistically significant reduction in very short-term (≈2 s) intermittent sprint running performance. These findings have implications for appropriate training strategies in multiple sprint sports.


Plyometrics Peak power output Sprinting Muscle damage 


  1. Asp S, Daugaard JR, Kristiansen S, Kiensand B, Richter EA (1998) Exercise metabolism in human skeletal muscle exposed to prior eccentric exercise. J Physiol 509:305–313CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Avela J, Kyröläinen H, Komi PV, Rama D (1999) Reduced reflex sensitivity persists several days after long-lasting stretch-shortening cycle exercise. J Appl Physiol 86:1292–1300CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Balnave CD, Thompson MW (1993) Effect of training on eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage. J Appl Physiol 75:1545–1551PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Balsom PD, Seger JY, Sjödin B, Ekblom B (1992) Physiological responses to maximal intensity intermittent exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol 65:144–149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baltzopoulos V, Gleeson NP (2001) Skeletal muscle function. In: Eston RG, Reilly T (eds) Tests, procedures and data, vol 2, Exercise Physiology. Routledge, London, pp 7–35Google Scholar
  6. Bar-Or O (1987) The Wingate anaerobic test: an update on methodology, reliability and validity. Sports Med 4:381–394PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Bird S, Davison R (1997) Physiological testing guidelines, 3rd Edition, British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences. Leeds.Google Scholar
  8. Brockett CL, Morgan DL, Gregory JE, Proske U (2001) Damage in different types of motor units following repeated active lengthening of the medial gastrocnemius muscle of the cat. J Appl Physiol 92:1104–1110Google Scholar
  9. Byrne C, Eston R (2002a) The effect of exercise-induced muscle damage on isometric and dynamic knee extensor strength and vertical jump performance. J Sports Sci 20:417–425CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Byrne C, Eston R (2002b) Maximal intensity isometric and dynamic exercise performance following eccentric muscle actions. J Sports Sci 20:951–959CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Byrne C, Eston RG, Edwards RHT (2001) Characteristics of isometric and dynamic strength loss following eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage. Scand J Med Sci Sport 11:134–140Google Scholar
  12. Byrne C, Twist C, Eston RG (2004) Neuromuscular function following exercise-induced muscle damage: theoretical and applied implications. Sports Med 34:49–69PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Chambers C, Noakes TD, Lambert EV, Lambert MI (1998) Time course of recovery of vertical jump height and heart rate versus running speed after a 90-km foot race. J Sports Sci 16:645–651CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Clarkson PM, Newham DJ (1995) Associations between muscle soreness, damage and fatigue. In: Gandevia SC, Enoka RM, McComas AJ, Stuart DG, Thomas CK (eds) Fatigue: neural and muscular mechanisms, advances in experimental medicine and biology. Plenum Press, New York, 384:457–469Google Scholar
  15. Clarkson PM, Kazunori N, Braun B (1992) Muscle function after exercise induced muscle damage and rapid adaptation.Med Sci Sports Exerc 24:512–520PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Cleak MJ, Eston RG (1992) Muscle soreness, swelling, stiffness and strength loss after intense eccentric exercise. Br J Sp Med 26:267–272Google Scholar
  17. Costill DL, Pascoe DD, Fink WJ (1990) Impaired muscle glycogen synthesis after eccentric exercise. J Appl Physiol 69:46–50PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Deschenes MR, Brewer RE, Bush JA, McCoy RW, Volek JS, Kraemer WJ (2000) Neuromuscular disturbance outlasts other symptoms of exercise-induced muscle damage. J Neurol Sci 174:92–99CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Eston RG, Finney S, Baker S, Baltzopoulos V (1996) Muscle tenderness and peak torque changes after downhill running following a prior bout of isokinetic eccentric exercise. J Sports Sci 14:291–299CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Fridén J, Lieber RL (1992) Structural and mechanical basis of exercise-induced muscle injury. Med Sci Sports Exerc 24:521–530PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Fridén J, Sjostrom M, Ekblom B (1983) Myofibrillar damage following intense eccentric exercise in man. Int J Sports Med 4:170–176PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Gaitanos GC, Williams C, Boobis LH, Brooks S (1993) Human muscle metabolism during intermittent maximal exercise. J Appl Physiol 75:712–719PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Garland J (1991) Role of small diameter afferents in reflex inhibition during human muscle fatigue. J Physiol 435:547–558PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Gibala MJ, MacDougall JD, Tarnopolsky MA, Stauber WT, Elorriaga A (1995) Changes in human skeletal muscle ultrastructure and force production after acute resistance exercise. J Appl Physiol 78:702–708PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Golden CL, Dudley GA (1992) Strength after bouts of eccentric or concentric actions. Med Sci Sport Exerc 24:926–933Google Scholar
  26. Horita T, Komi PV, Nicol C, Kyröläinen H (1999) Effect of exhausting stretch-shortening cycle exercise on the time course of mechanical behaviour in the drop jump: possible role of muscle damage. Eur J Appl Physiol 79:160–167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Jones DA, Newham DJ, Round JM, Tolfree EJ (1986) Experimental human muscle damage: morphological changes in relation to other indices of damage. J Physiol 375:435–448PubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Jones DA, Newham DJ, Clarkson PM (1987) Skeletal muscle stiffness and pain following eccentric exercise of the elbow flexors. Pain 30:233–242CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Kendall BK, Eston RG (2002) The effect of menstrual cycle status and oral contraceptive use on exercise-induced muscle damage. J Sports Sci 20:53–54Google Scholar
  30. Kendall B, Walsh N, Worth S, Walters R, Bishop N, Eston RG (2003) The effect of exercise-induced muscle damage on neutrophil function. J Sports Sci 21:325–326Google Scholar
  31. Leiber RL, Fridén J (1988) Selective damage of fast glycolytic fibres with eccentric contraction of the rabbit tibialis anterior. Acta Physiol Scand 133:587–588PubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Malm C, Lenkei R, Sjödin B (1999) Effect of eccentric exercise on the immune system in men. J Appl Physiol 86:461–468PubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Marginson V, Eston RG (2002) Symptoms of exercise-induced muscle damage in boys and men following two bouts of eighty plyometric jumps. J Physiol 539:75Google Scholar
  34. McHugh MP, Connolly DEJ, Eston RG, Gleim GW (2000) Electromyographic evidence of exercise resulting in symptoms of muscle damage. J Sports Sci 18:163–172CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Michaut A, Pousson M, Babault N, van Hoecke J (2002) Is eccentric exercise-induced torque decrease contraction type dependant? Med Sci Sports Exerc 34:1003–1008CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Miles MP, Ives JC, Vincent KR (1997) Neuromuscular control following maximal eccentric exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol 76:368–374CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Newham DJ, McPhail G, Mills, KR, Edwards RHT (1983) Ultrastructural changes after concentric and eccentric contractions of human muscle. J Neurol Sci 6:109–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Newham DJ, Jones DA, Clarkson PM (1987) Repeated high force eccentric exercise: effects on muscle pain and damage. J Appl Physiol 63:1381–1386PubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Nosaka K, Clarkson PM (1997) Influence of previous concentric exercise on eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage. J Sports Sci 15:477–483CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. O’Reilly KP, Warhol MJ, Fielding RA (1987) Eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage impairs muscle glycogen repletion. J Appl Physiol 63:252–256PubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Pascoe DD, Gladden LB (1996) Muscle glycogen resynthesis after short term, high intensity exercise and resistance exercise. Sports Med 21:98–118PubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Paul GL, DeLany JP, Snook JT, Seifert JG, Kirby TE (1989) Serum and urinary markers of skeletal muscle tissue damage after weight lifting exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol 58:786–790CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Sargeant AJ, Dolan P (1987) Human muscle function following prolonged eccentric exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol 56:704–711Google Scholar
  44. Semark A, Noakes TD, St Clair Gibson A, Lambert MI (1999) The effect of a prophylactic dose of flurbiprofen on muscle soreness and sprinting performance in trained subjects. J Sports Sci 17:197–203CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Sherman WM, Armstrong LE, Murray TM, Hagerman FC, Costill DL, Staron RC, Ivy JL (1984) Effect of a 42.2-km footrace and subsequent rest or exercise on muscular strength and work capacity. J Appl Physiol 57:1668–1673PubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Stevens JP (2002) Applied multivariate statistics for the social sciences. Erlbaum, New JerseyGoogle Scholar
  47. Strojnik V, Komi PV (1998) Neuromuscular fatigue after maximal stretch shortening exercise. J Appl Physiol 84:344–350PubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Thomas JR, Nelson JK (1996) Research methods in physical activity. Human Kinetics, ChampaignGoogle Scholar
  49. Thompson D, Nicholas CW, Williams C (1999) Muscular soreness following prolonged intermittent high-intensity shuttle running. J Sports Sci 17:387–395CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Whitehead NP, Allen TJ, Morgan DL, Proske U (1998) Damage to human muscle from eccentric exercise after training with concentric exercise. J Physiol 512:615–620CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Williams C (1987) Short term activity. In: Macleod D, Maughan R, Nimmo M, Reilly T, Williams C (eds) Exercise: benefits, limits and adaptations. E and FN Spon, London, pp 59–62Google Scholar
  52. Winter EM, MacLaren DP (2001) Assessment of maximal-intensity exercise. In: Eston RG, Reilly T (eds) Tests, procedures and data, vol 2, Exercise Physiology. Routledge, London, pp 263–288Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sport and Exercise SciencesUniversity College ChesterChesterUK
  2. 2.University of ExeterSchool of Sport and Health SciencesExeterUK

Personalised recommendations