The adaptive response of skeletal muscle to increased use

Muscle Nerve. Mar-Apr 1981;4(2):94-105. doi: 10.1002/mus.880040204.


Skeletal muscle undergoes profound changes in morphological, physiological, and biochemical character when subjected to prolonged periods of increased use. Although increased use may be brought about in a variety of ways, the results show consistent features. In particular, endurance exercise and chronic stimulation differ only in degree: the properties which change in response to exercise are also those which change at an early stage of stimulation; the properties which are resistant to change under exercise conditions change only after prolonged stimulation. There is therefore a hierarchy of stability in the properties of skeletal muscle which is revealed in its response to changing functional demands. The adaptive potential of muscle provides a logical framework for understanding neural influences on the emergence of fiber types during muscle development. It is also relevant to the study of pathological conditions which may involve a sustained departure from normal postural and locomotor patterns of activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acclimatization*
  • Animals
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Humans
  • Microcirculation
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Muscles / blood supply
  • Muscles / innervation
  • Muscles / physiology*
  • Physical Exertion*
  • Sarcoplasmic Reticulum / metabolism