Thixotropic changes in human muscle stiffness and the effects of fatigue

Q J Exp Physiol. 1988 Jul;73(4):487-500. doi: 10.1113/expphysiol.1988.sp003169.


Two methods have been used to study the stiffness of the relaxed finger musculature after movement followed by various times at rest. The muscles stiffen considerably as the time at rest increases. The time course of this change has been plotted; it continues at a declining rate for at least 30 min. The increased stiffness after resting can be immediately reduced by active or passive movements but not by isometric efforts. These changes characterize a thixotropic system and suggest a long-term molecular rearrangement in relaxed muscle. Extensive eccentric exercise of the muscles under investigation reduces the overall stiffness and there is a concomitant increase in tremor on movement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Electric Stimulation
  • Fingers / innervation
  • Fingers / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Movement*
  • Muscle Contraction*
  • Muscle Relaxation*
  • Muscles / physiology*
  • Time Factors