Changes in electrical pain threshold of fascia and muscle after initial and secondary bouts of elbow flexor eccentric exercise

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2015 May;115(5):959-68. doi: 10.1007/s00421-014-3077-5. Epub 2014 Dec 18.

Abstract

Purpose: This study investigated changes in electrical pain threshold (EPT) after repeated eccentric exercise bouts to test the hypothesis that fascia would become more sensitive than muscle when greater delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is induced.

Methods: Ten young men performed two eccentric exercise bouts (ECC1, ECC2) consisting of ten sets of six maximal isokinetic eccentric contractions of the elbow flexors with the same arm separated by 4 weeks. Maximal voluntary isometric contraction torque, range of motion, muscle soreness assessed by a visual analogue scale (VAS) and pressure pain threshold (PPT) were measured before, immediately after and 1-5 days after exercise. EPT was assessed in the biceps brachii fascia (BBF), biceps brachii muscle, and brachialis fascia (BF) 1 day before, immediately after, and 1, 2 and 4 days after exercise.

Results: All measures showed smaller changes (P < 0.05) after ECC2 than ECC1. EPT decreased after both bouts and the largest decreases were evident at 2 days post-exercise (P < 0.05). The decreases in EPT after ECC1 were greater (P < 0.05) for both BBF (Baseline: 1.45 ± 0.23 mA, 2 days post-exercise: 0.13 ± 0.11 mA) and BF (1.64 ± 0.29 mA, 0.26 ± 0.2 mA) than muscle (1.56 ± 0.29 mA, 0.69 ± 0.33 mA). Changes in EPT were correlated with the changes in PPT (r = 0.63-0.87, P ≤ 0.05) but not with VAS (r = -0.01 to 0.50).

Conclusion: These results show that fascia becomes more sensitive than muscle to electrical stimulation after the initial eccentric exercise, suggesting that damage inflammation to fascia than muscle fibres is more associated with DOMS.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Fascia / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction / physiology*
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Pain Threshold / physiology*
  • Torque
  • Young Adult