Eccentric Exercise to Enhance Neuromuscular Control

Sports Health. 2017 Jul/Aug;9(4):333-340. doi: 10.1177/1941738117710913. Epub 2017 Jun 1.


Context: Neuromuscular alterations are a major causal factor of primary and secondary injuries. Though injury prevention programs have experienced some success, rates of injuries have not declined, and after injury, individuals often return to activity with functionality below clinical recommendations. Considering alternative therapies to the conventional concentric exercise approach, such as one that can target neuromuscular injury risk and postinjury alterations, may provide for more effective injury prevention and rehabilitation protocols.

Evidence acquisition: Peer-reviewed sources available on the Web of Science and MEDLINE databases from 2000 through 2016 were gathered using searches associated with the keywords eccentric exercise, injury prevention, and neuromuscular control.

Hypothesis: Eccentric exercise will reduce injury risk by targeting specific neural and morphologic alterations that precipitate neuromuscular dysfunction.

Study design: Clinical review.

Level of evidence: Level 4.

Results: Neuromuscular control is influenced by alterations in muscle morphology and neural activity. Eccentric exercise beneficially modifies several underlying factors of muscle morphology (fiber typing, cross-sectional area, working range, and pennation angle), and emerging evidence indicates that eccentric exercise is also beneficial to peripheral and central neural activity (alpha motorneuron recruitment/firing, sarcolemma activity, corticospinal excitability, and brain activation).

Conclusion: There is mounting evidence that eccentric exercise is not only a therapeutic intervention influencing muscle morphology but also targets unique alterations in neuromuscular control, influencing injury risk.

Keywords: eccentric exercise; injury prevention; neuromuscular.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Athletic Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Humans
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / anatomy & histology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / injuries*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / innervation*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Risk Factors