European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 114, Issue 10, pp 2223–2232 | Cite as

Neuromuscular electrical stimulation via the peroneal nerve is superior to graduated compression socks in reducing perceived muscle soreness following intense intermittent endurance exercise

  • Richard A. Ferguson
  • Matthew J. Dodd
  • Victoria R. Paley
Original Article



A novel technique of neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) via the peroneal nerve has been shown to augment limb blood flow which could enhance recovery following exercise. The present study examined the effects of NMES, compared to graduated compression socks on muscle soreness, strength, and markers of muscle damage and inflammation following intense intermittent exercise.


Twenty-one (age 21 ± 1 years, height 179 ± 7 cm, body mass 76 ± 9 kg,) healthy males performed a 90-min intermittent shuttle running test on three occasions. Following exercise, the following interventions were applied: passive recovery (CON), graduated compression socks (GCS) or NMES. Perceived muscle soreness (PMS) and muscle strength (isometric maximal voluntary contraction of knee extensors and flexors) were measured and a venous blood sample taken pre-exercise and 0, 1, 24, 48 and 72 h following exercise for measurement of creatine kinase (CK) and Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) activity and IL-6 and CRP concentrations.


PMS increased in all conditions immediately, 1 and 24 h post-exercise. At 24 h PMS was lower in NMES compared to GCS and CON (2.0 ± 1.6, 3.2 ± 2.1, 4.6 ± 2.0, respectively). At 48 h PMS was lower in NMES compared to CON (1.3 ± 1.5 and 3.1 ± 1.8, respectively). There were no differences between treatments for muscle strength, CK and LDH activity, IL-6 and CRP concentrations.


The novel NMES technique is superior to GCS in reducing PMS following intense intermittent endurance exercise.


DOMS Muscle damage Muscle function 



Analysis of variance


Creatine kinase


C-Reactive protein


Delayed onset muscle soreness


Exercise-induced muscle damage


Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay


Graduated compression socks




Lactate dehydrogenase


Loughborough intermittent shuttle test


Low-frequency electrical stimulation


Maximal voluntary contraction


Neuromuscular electrical stimulation


Perceived muscle soreness


Repeated bout effect


Standard deviation


Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation

TNF- α

Tumour necrosis factor-α


Maximal oxygen uptake



The authors gratefully acknowledge the help and assistance of Xin Hui Aw Yong, Joshua Ewens, Liam Heaney, Harriet Kent, Andrew Malley, Samuel Price, James Redden, Benoit Smeuninx and Benjamin Thorpe in undertaking the study. They also acknowledge the time and commitment of all participants who took part in the study. The study was funded by Sky Medical Technology/Firstkind Ltd. Additional funding was also obtained by the UK Technology Strategy Board.

Conflict of interest

The authors of have no conflicts of interest and no financial stakes in the products used in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard A. Ferguson
    • 1
  • Matthew J. Dodd
    • 1
  • Victoria R. Paley
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Sport, Exercise and Health SciencesLoughborough UniversityLoughboroughUK

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