Purpose: The purpose of the present study was to determine whether activity would affect the recovery of muscle function after high-force eccentric exercise of the elbow flexors.
Methods: Twenty-six male volunteers were randomly assigned to one of three groups for a 4-d treatment period: immobilization (N = 9), control (N = 8), and light exercise (N = 9). Relaxed arm angle (RANG), flexed arm angle (FANG), maximal isometric force (MIF), and perceived muscle soreness (SOR) were obtained for 3 consecutive days pre-exercise (baseline), immediately post-exercise, and for 8 consecutive days after the 4-d treatment period (recovery). During the treatment period, the immobilization group had their arm placed in a cast and supported in a sling at 90 degrees. The control group had no restriction of their arm activity. The light exercise group performed a daily exercise regimen of 50 biceps curls with a 5-lb dumbbell.
Results: All subjects showed a prolonged decrease in RANG, increase in FANG, loss in MIF, and increase in SOR in the days after eccentric exercise. During recovery, there was no significant interaction observed among groups over time in RANG (P > 0.05) or FANG (P > 0.05), but there was a significant interaction observed among groups over time in both MIF (P < 0.01) and SOR (P < 0.01). Recovery of MIF was facilitated by light exercise and immobilization, whereas recovery from SOR was facilitated by light exercise and delayed by immobilization.
Conclusions: The recovery of MIF in both the light exercise and immobilization groups suggests that more than one mechanism may be involved in the recovery of isometric force after eccentric exercise.