Changes in the angle-force curve of human elbow flexors following eccentric and isometric exercise

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2004 Oct;93(1-2):237-44. doi: 10.1007/s00421-004-1209-z. Epub 2004 Aug 4.


The aim of this study was to explore and compare the magnitude and time-course of the shift in the angle-force curves obtained from maximal voluntary contractions of the elbow flexors, both before and 4 consecutive days after eccentric and isometric exercise. The maximal isometric force of the elbow flexors of fourteen young male volunteers was measured at five different elbow angles between 50 degrees and 160 degrees . Subjects were then divided into two groups: the eccentric group (ECC, n=7) and the isometric group (ISO, n=7). Subjects in the ECC group performed 50 maximal voluntary eccentric contractions of the elbow flexors on an isokinetic dynamometer (30 degrees x s(-1)), while subjects in the ISO group performed 50 maximal voluntary isometric muscle contractions with the elbow flexors at a lengthened position. Following the ECC and ISO exercise protocols, maximal isometric force at the five angles, muscle soreness, and the relaxed (RANG) and flexed (FANG) elbow angles were measured at 24 h intervals for 4 days. All results were presented as the mean and standard error, and a quadratic curve was used to model the maximal isometric force data obtained at the five elbow angles. This approach not only allowed us to mathematically describe the angle-force curves and estimate the peak force and optimum angle for peak force generation, but also enabled us to statistically compare the shift of the angle-force curves between and within groups. A large and persistent shift of the angle-force curve towards longer muscle lengths was observed 1 day after eccentric exercise ( P<0.01). This resulted in a approximately 16 degrees shift of the optimum angle for force generation, which remained unchanged for the whole observation period. A smaller but also persistent shift of the angle-force curve was seen after isometric exercise at long muscle length ( P<0.05; shift in optimum angle approximately 5 degrees ). ECC exercise caused more muscle damage than ISO exercise, as indicated by the greater changes in RANG and ratings of muscle soreness ( P<0.05). It was suggested that the shift in the angle-force curve was proportional to the degree of muscle damage and may be explained by the presence of overstretched sarcomeres that increased in series compliance of the muscle.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology
  • Adult
  • Elbow / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction / physiology
  • Male
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology*
  • Muscle Fatigue / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Physical Endurance / physiology*
  • Physical Exertion / physiology*
  • Time Factors