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Changes in human skeletal muscle induced by long-term eccentric exercise

Summary

The fine structure of muscle fibres from m. vastus lateralis of nine healthy males (mean age 26 years) was investigated. Four individuals constituted non-exercised controls while five subjects participated in a two-months eccentric muscular training program. Specimens from the controls showed a well-preserved, regular myofibrillar band pattern while changes in the myofibrillar architecture were constantly found in specimens taken after the training program. These changes consisted of Z-band alterations, Z-bands being out of register, extra sarcomeres, Z-band extensions and bisected Z-bands. Between the separated Z-band halves, thin and thick myofilaments as well as abundant glycogen particles and/or ribosomes, were observed. Type-2 (fast-twitch) fibres were predominantly affected. Contrary to the controls the trained individuals constantly showed a greater variation in sarcomere lengths in Type-2 fibres than in Type-1 fibres.

It is concluded that muscular work of high tension can induce fine-structural alterations. When repeated over a long period of time, extreme tension demands seem to initiate reorganization in the muscle fibres, predominantly in the, ultrastructurally defined, Type-2 fibres. This adaptation probably results in a better stretchability of the muscle fibres, reduces the risk for mechanical damage and brings about an optimal overlap between actin and myosin filaments.

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Fridén, J. Changes in human skeletal muscle induced by long-term eccentric exercise. Cell Tissue Res. 236, 365–372 (1984). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00214240

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Key words

  • Skeletal muscles
  • Myofibrils
  • Ultrastructure
  • Exertion
  • Man