How much is enough? The effect of exercise repetition on the force frequency characteristics of eccentric exercise used for tendinopathy rehabilitation
Grigg, N., Wearing, S., & Smeathers, J. (2012) How much is enough? The effect of exercise repetition on the force frequency characteristics of eccentric exercise used for tendinopathy rehabilitation. In Be Active 2012, Elsevier, Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, New South Wales, Australia, S96.
Introduction: Eccentric exercise (EE) is a commonly used treatment for Achilles tendinopathy. While vibrations in the 8–12 Hz frequency range generated during eccentric muscle actions have been put forward as a potential mechanism for the beneficial effect of EE, optimal loading parameters required to expedite recovery are currently unknown. Alfredson's original protocol employed 90 repetitions of eccentric loading, however abbreviated protocols consisting of fewer repetitions (typically 45) have been developed, albeit with less beneficial effect. Given that 8–12 Hz vibrations generated during isometric muscle actions have been previously shown to increase with fatigue, this research evaluated the effect of exercise repetition on motor output vibrations generated during EE by investigating the frequency characteristics of ground reaction force (GRF) recorded throughout the 90 repetitions of Alfredson's protocol.
Methods: Nine healthy adult males performed six sets (15 repetitions per set) of eccentric ankle exercise. GRF was recorded at a frequency of 1000 Hz throughout the exercise protocol. The frequency power spectrum of the resultant GRF was calculated and normalized to total power. Relative spectral power was summed over 1 Hz widows within the frequency rage 7.5–11.5 Hz. The effect of each additional exercise set (15 repetitions) on the relative power within each widow was investigated using a general linear modelling approach.
Results: The magnitude of peak relative power within the 7.5–11.5 Hz bandwidth increased across the six exercise sets from 0.03 in exercise set one to 0.12 in exercise set six (P < 0.05). Following the 4th set of exercise the frequency at which peak relative power occurred shifted from 9 to 10 Hz.
Discussion: This study has demonstrated that successive repetitions of eccentric loading over six exercise sets results in an increase in the amplitude of motor output vibrations in the 7.5–11.5 Hz bandwidth, with an increase in the frequency of these vibrations occurring after the 4th set (60th repetition). These findings are consistent with findings from previous studies of muscle fatigue. Assuming that the magnitude and frequency of these vibrations represent important stimuli for tendon remodelling as hypothesized within the literature, the findings of this study question the role of abbreviated EE protocols and raise the question; can EE protocols for tendinopathy be optimized by performing eccentric loading to fatigue?
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