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Eccentric calf muscle exercise produces a greater acute reduction in Achilles tendon thickness than concentric exercise
  1. N L Grigg1,
  2. S C Wearing2,
  3. J E Smeathers1
  1. 1
    Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia
  2. 2
    Health QWest & Bioengineering Unit, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK
  1. Ms Nicole L Grigg, 60 Musk Avenue Kelvin Grove, 4059, Australia; nicole.grigg{at}qut.edu.au

Abstract

Objective: To investigate the acute effects of isolated eccentric and concentric calf muscle exercise on Achilles tendon sagittal thickness.

Design: Within-subject, counterbalanced, mixed design.

Setting: Institutional.

Participants: 11 healthy, recreationally active male adults.

Interventions: Participants performed an exercise protocol, which involved isolated eccentric loading of the Achilles tendon of a single limb and isolated concentric loading of the contralateral, both with the addition of 20% bodyweight.

Main outcome measurements: Sagittal sonograms were acquired prior to, immediately following and 3, 6, 12 and 24 h after exercise. Tendon thickness was measured 2 cm proximal to the superior aspect of the calcaneus.

Results: Both loading conditions resulted in an immediate decrease in normalised Achilles tendon thickness. Eccentric loading induced a significantly greater decrease than concentric loading despite a similar impulse (−0.21 vs −0.05, p<0.05). Post-exercise, eccentrically loaded tendons recovered exponentially, with a recovery time constant of 2.5 h. The same exponential function did not adequately model changes in tendon thickness resulting from concentric loading. Even so, recovery pathways subsequent to the 3 h time point were comparable. Regardless of the exercise protocol, full tendon thickness recovery was not observed until 24 h.

Conclusions: Eccentric loading invokes a greater reduction in Achilles tendon thickness immediately after exercise but appears to recover fully in a similar time frame to concentric loading.

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Footnotes

  • Competing interests: None.

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