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Post-exercise alcohol ingestion exacerbates eccentric-exercise induced losses in performance


The effect of acute alcohol intake on muscular performance in both the exercising and non-exercising legs in the days following strenuous eccentric exercise was investigated to ascertain whether an interaction between post-exercise alcohol use and muscle damage causes an increase in damage-related weakness. Ten healthy males performed 300 maximal eccentric contractions of the quadriceps muscles of one leg on an isokinetic dynamometer. They then consumed either a beverage containing 1 g of ethanol per kg bodyweight ethanol (as vodka and orange juice; ALC) or a non-alcoholic beverage (OJ). At least 2 weeks later they performed an equivalent bout of eccentric exercise on the contralateral leg after which they consumed the other beverage. Measurement of peak and average peak isokinetic (concentric and eccentric) and isometric torque produced by the quadriceps of both exercising and non-exercising legs was made before and 36 and 60 h post-exercise. Greatest decreases in exercising leg performance were observed at 36 h with losses of 28.7, 31.9 and 25.9% occurring for OJ average peak isometric, concentric, and eccentric torques, respectively. However, average peak torque loss was significantly greater in ALC with the same performance measures decreasing by 40.9, 42.8 and 44.8% (all p < 0.05). Performance of the non-exercising leg did not change significantly under either treatment. Therefore, consumption of moderate amounts of alcohol after damaging exercise magnifies the loss of force associated with strenuous eccentric exercise. This weakness appears to be due to an interaction between muscle damage and alcohol rather than the systemic effects of acute alcohol consumption.

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Correspondence to Matthew J. Barnes.

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Communicated by William Kraemer.

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Barnes, M.J., Mündel, T. & Stannard, S.R. Post-exercise alcohol ingestion exacerbates eccentric-exercise induced losses in performance. Eur J Appl Physiol 108, 1009–1014 (2010).

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  • Ethanol
  • Muscle strength
  • Soft tissue injuries