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2000 Publications

Can exercise-induced muscle damage be avoided?by McHugh MP - last modified 2013-02-10 00:00
Western Journal of Medicine 172(4): 265-266, 2000 (reprinted from British Journal of Sports Medicine with permission).


All dynamic sports activities will involve a large component of high intensity eccentric contractions, whether the activity is in a game or practice situation. Athletes typically experience marked symptoms of muscle damage when returning to these activities following a prolonged lay off due to injury or following the off-season.

However, the severity of these symptoms may be reduced by: (1) maintaining good flexibility, especially of the principle muscle groups involved in the given sport; (2) preconditioning the principle muscle groups with a few high intensity eccentric contractions within one to two weeks prior to return to full activities; and (3) performing specific warm-up exercises for the principle muscle groups immediately prior to the first few training sessions or games.

Increasing the athlete's awareness of the cause of the symptoms will increase compliance with any intervention directed at limiting muscle damage. This is especially important in sports that do not place a large emphasis on warm-up or flexibility.