Changes in passive tension after stretch of unexercised and eccentrically exercised human plantarflexor muscles

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The study measured the effect of stretch on passive mechanical properties in unexercised and eccentrically exercised plantarflexor muscles, to obtain insight into how stretch might serve athletes as a warm-up strategy. Passive torque, voluntary contraction strength and muscle soreness were measured before and after a large amplitude stretch given before and after a period of eccentric exercise and at 0, 1, 2 and 24 h later. Stretch of the unexercised muscle led to a 20 fall in passive torque which recovered within an hour. About 40 of the fall could be recovered immediately with a voluntary contraction. After eccentric exercise there was a rise in passive torque by 20 at 2 h post-exercise. This rise was postulated to result from an injury contracture in muscle fibres damaged by the exercise. It was accompanied by a fall in maximum voluntary torque and the development of muscle soreness at 24 h. Stretch of the exercised muscle led to a fall in passive torque and rise in pain threshold. It is proposed that in response to a stretch there is a fall in passive tension in the muscle due to stable cross-bridges in sarcomeres which could be recovered with a voluntary contraction and an additional component attributable to the elastic filament, titin. The size of the fall was not significantly different between exercised and unexercised muscle. These observations provide a physiological basis for the effects of passive stretches on skeletal muscle and help to explain why they are used as a popular warm-up strategy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)545 - 554
Number of pages9
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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