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.
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