How long does the protective effect on eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage last?

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001 Sep;33(9):1490-5. doi: 10.1097/00005768-200109000-00011.


Purpose: One bout of eccentric exercise produces an adaptation that reduces muscle damage in subsequent bouts. Because it is not known how long this adaptation lasts, the present study investigated the maximal length of the attenuated changes in muscle damage indicators after high-force eccentric exercise.

Methods: Male students (N = 35) were placed into three groups and performed two bouts of eccentric exercise of the nondominant elbow flexors separated by either 6 (N = 14), 9 (N = 11), or 12 (N = 10) months. Maximal isometric force (MIF), range of motion (ROM), upper arm circumference (CIR), muscle soreness (SOR), and plasma creatine kinase activity (CK) were measured before and for 5 d after exercise. Magnetic resonance (MR) images of the transverse and longitudinal scans of the upper arm were taken 4 d after exercise. Changes in the criterion measures were compared between the first and second bouts and between groups by a two-way repeated measures ANOVA.

Results: A faster recovery in MIF was evident after a second bout performed at 6 or 9 months, and reduced SOR as well as smaller increases in CIR, CK, and T2 relaxation time of MR images also occurred after the second exercise bout at 6 months compared with initial responses. No significant differences between the bouts were found for ROM, and the 12-month group did not show any repeated bout effect.

Conclusion: These results show that the repeated bout effect for most of the criterion measures lasts at least 6 months but is lost between 9 and 12 months.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arm / physiology
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Creatine Kinase / analysis
  • Creatine Kinase / metabolism*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction / physiology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology*
  • Pain / etiology
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Time Factors


  • Creatine Kinase