This study investigated whether low-intensity eccentric contractions of the knee extensors would attenuate the magnitude of muscle damage induced by maximal eccentric exercise of the same muscle performed 7 days later using elderly individuals. Healthy older men (66.4 ± 4.6 years) were assigned to control or experimental (Exp) group (n = 13 per group). The control group performed six sets of ten maximal eccentric contractions (MaxECC) of the knee extensors of non-dominant leg. The Exp group performed six sets of ten low-intensity eccentric contractions of the knee extensors on a leg extension machine by lowering a weight of 10 % maximal voluntary isometric knee extension strength (10 %ECC) 7 days prior to MaxECC. Changes in maximal voluntary isokinetic concentric torque (MVC-CON), angle at peak torque, range of motion (ROM), upper thigh circumference, muscle soreness, plasma creatine kinase activity and myoglobin (Mb) concentration and B-mode ultrasound echo-intensity before and for 5 days after MaxECC were compared between groups by a mixed factor ANOVA. No significant changes in any variables were observed following 10 %ECC. Following MaxECC, all variables changed significantly, and changes in all variables except for angle at peak torque were significantly different between groups. MVC-CON and ROM decreased smaller and recovered faster (P < 0.05) for Exp than control group, and changes in other variables were smaller (P < 0.05) for Exp group compared with control group. These results suggest that preconditioning knee extensor muscles with low-intensity eccentric contractions was effective for attenuating muscle damage induced by subsequent MaxECC of the knee extensors for elderly individuals.
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