Background: This study aimed to measure and compare (1) the microcirculation and microcirculatory responses of the muscles and tendons at rest and during isometric muscle contractions in participants with and without diabetes mellitus (DM) and (2) to determine correlations between microcirculation and muscle strength. Methods: Sixty-three participants with type 2 DM and 42 physically matched controls were recruited. Baseline measurements of the microcirculation of the rectus femoris (RF) and medial gastrocnemius (MG) muscles and patellar (PT) and Achilles tendons (AT), as well as their microcirculatory changes during maximal isometric exercises, were performed and recorded by using near-infrared spectroscopy and a red laser. Data on various laboratory tests (including glycated hemoglobin, triglyceride, high-density cholesterol), the monofilament test, and the ankle-brachial index were also obtained. Results: The baseline measurements indicated that, compared with the controls, the diabetic participants had lower oxygen saturation (SpO2) in their RF and MG muscles (both P < 0.001), and the total hemoglobin in the diabetic PT and AT was higher (P = 0.001 and P = 0.01). The minimal SpO2 levels in the aforementioned muscles during isometric contractions were lower in the diabetes group than in the control group (P ≤ 0.001). Furthermore, there were correlations between the microcirculatory change of the RF muscle and the knee extension force. Conclusions: This study demonstrated the effects of diabetes on the microcirculation of skeletal muscles and tendons during baseline measurements and responses to maximal isometric exercises. The results support the need for preventive strategies for diabetic muscles to prevent adverse complications when performing resistance training.
Keywords: blood circulation; diabetes mellitus; exercise test; muscle strength; soft tissue.