Effects of age and muscle action type on acute strength and power recovery following fatigue of the leg flexors

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Springer Verlag

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Short-term strength and power recovery patterns following fatigue have received little research attention, particularly as they pertain to age-specific responses, and the leg flexors (i.e., hamstrings) muscle group. Thus, research is warranted addressing these issues because both age-related alterations in the neuromuscular system and mode of muscle action (e.g., eccentric, concentric, isometric) may differentially influence recovery responses from fatigue. The aim of this study was to investigate the strength and power recovery responses for eccentric, concentric, and isometric muscle actions of the leg flexors in young and older men following an isometric, intermittent fatigue-inducing protocol. Nineteen young (age = 25 ± 3 years) and nineteen older (71 ± 4) men performed maximal voluntary contractions (MVCs) for eccentric, concentric, and isometric muscle actions followed by a fatigue protocol of intermittent (0.6 duty cycle) isometric contractions of the leg flexors at 60 % of isometric MVC. MVCs of each muscle action were performed at 0, 7, 15, and 30 min following fatigue. Peak torque (PT) and mean power values were calculated from the MVCs and the eccentric/concentric ratio (ECR) was derived. For PT and mean power, young men showed incomplete recovery at all time phases, whereas the older men had recovered by 7 min. Eccentric and isometric muscle actions showed incomplete recovery at all time phases, but concentric recovered by 7 min, independent of age. The ECR was depressed for up to 30 min following fatigue. More rapid and pronounced recovery in older men and concentric contractions may be related to physiological differences specific to aging and muscle action motor unit patterns. Individuals and clinicians may use these time course responses as a guide for recovery following activity-induced fatigue.

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