Less indication of muscle damage in the second than initial electrical muscle stimulation bout consisting of isometric contractions of the knee extensors


This study compared the first and second exercise bouts consisting of electrically evoked isometric contractions for muscle damage profile. Nine healthy men (31 ± 4 years) had two electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) bouts separated by 2 weeks. The knee extensors of one leg were stimulated by biphasic rectangular pulses (75 Hz, 400 μs, on–off ratio 5–15 s) at the knee joint angle of 100° (0°, full extension) to induce 40 isometric contractions, while the current amplitude was increased to maintain maximal force generation. Maximal voluntary isometric contraction (MVC) torque of the knee extensors at 100°, muscle soreness, pressure pain threshold and plasma creatine kinase (CK) activity were used as indirect markers of muscle damage, and measured before and 1, 24, 48, 72 and 96 h after EMS bout, and the changes over time were compared between bouts. The torque produced during exercise was approximately 30% of MVC, and no significant difference between bouts was evident for the changes in peak and average torque over 40 contractions. MVC decreased significantly (P < 0.05) by 26% immediately and 1 h after both bouts, but the recovery was significantly (P < 0.05) faster after the second bout (100% at 96 h) compared with the first bout (81% at 96 h). Development of muscle soreness and tenderness, and increases in plasma CK activity were significantly (P < 0.05) smaller after the second than the first bout. These results show that changes in muscle damage markers were attenuated in the second EMS bout compared with the initial EMS bout.

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The authors thank the subjects for participating in this study and Mr Mark Muthalib for his help in analyzing the data.

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Correspondence to Kazunori Nosaka.

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Communicated by Roberto Bottinelli.

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Aldayel, A., Jubeau, M., McGuigan, M.R. et al. Less indication of muscle damage in the second than initial electrical muscle stimulation bout consisting of isometric contractions of the knee extensors. Eur J Appl Physiol 108, 709–717 (2010).

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  • Maximal voluntary contraction
  • Creatine kinase
  • Muscle soreness
  • Pressure pain threshold
  • Repeated bout effect