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Force recovery after eccentric exercise in males and females


In this study we investigated force loss and recovery after eccentric exercise, and further characterized profound losses in muscle function (n=192 subjects – 98 males, 94 females; population A). Maximal voluntary contractile force (MVC) was assessed before, immediately after, and at 36 and 132 h after eccentric exercise. Two groups were then established (A1 and A2). Group A1 demonstrated a >70% reduction in MVC immediately after exercise, but were recovering at 132 h after exercise. These subjects performed a follow-up MVC 26 days later (n=32). Group A2 demonstrated a >70% reduction in MVC immediately post-exercise, but still exhibited a >65% reduction in force at 132 h post-exercise; these subjects also performed a follow-up MVC every 7 days until full recovery was established (n=9). In population A, there was a 57% reduction in MVC immediately post-exercise and a 67% recovery by 132 h post-exercise (P < 0.01), with no significant gender differences (P > 0.05). In group A1, although more females (two-thirds) showed large force losses after exercise, these females demonstrated greater %MVC recovery at 132 h post-exercise (59% vs 44%) and at 26 days post-exercise (93% vs 81%) compared to the males. In group A2, MVC recovery occurred between 33 and 47 days post-exercise. In conclusion, 21% of all subjects showed a delayed recovery in MVC after high-force eccentric exercise. Although there were no significant gender differences in force loss, a disproportionately larger number of females demonstrated force reductions of >70%. However, their recovery of force was more rapid than that observed for the males who also demonstrated a >70% force loss.

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Accepted: 2 October 2000

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Sayers, S., Clarkson, P. Force recovery after eccentric exercise in males and females. Eur J Appl Physiol 84, 122–126 (2001).

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  • Key words Maximal isometric force
  • Strength loss
  • Muscle damage
  • Gender differences