Eccentric activation and muscle damage: biomechanical and physiological considerations during downhill running

Br J Sports Med. 1995 Jun;29(2):89-94. doi: 10.1136/bjsm.29.2.89.


An eccentric muscle activation is the controlled lengthening of the muscle under tension. Functionally, most leg muscles work eccentrically for some part of a normal gait cycle, to support the weight of the body against gravity and to absorb shock. During downhill running the role of eccentric work of the 'anti-gravity' muscles--knee extensors, muscles of the anterior and posterior tibial compartments and hip extensors--is accentuated. The purpose of this paper is to review the relationship between eccentric muscle activation and muscle damage, particularly as it relates to running, and specifically, downhill running.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Gravitation
  • Hip / physiology
  • Humans
  • Knee / physiology
  • Leg / physiology*
  • Muscle Contraction* / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / injuries
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology
  • Running / physiology*
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Tibia / physiology