Research uncovers mechanism, protective purpose of muscle soreness following exercise

February 14, 2017
Research reveals how human muscles recover after fatigue
Dr Bradley Launikonis and a thigh biopsy. Credit: University of Queensland

New research from the University of Queensland has revealed the way human muscles recover after fatigue.

Dr Bradley Launikonis from UQ's School of Biomedical Science said most people knew all too well the feeling of after unaccustomed exercise, but until now no one had fundamentally described the cell physiology of the recovery process.

"We found the muscle itself has a stopping an individual from further damaging themselves in the days after exercise," Dr Launikonis said.

"We tested human from thigh biopsies at three points in an exercise cycle.

"We mapped the muscle structure before an individual exercised, as well as 24 and 48 hours after."

The study found the muscle membrane system could change structure dramatically.

"When a person partakes in unaccustomed exercise, calcium levels rise and muscles are prone to damage," Dr Launikonis said.

"It's thanks to small cavities inside the muscle fibres where calcium accumulates—called vacuoles—that the damage high calcium levels would otherwise cause to vulnerable muscle is reduced."

This process happens while the body is warned to ease off.

"The soreness a person feels is the body saying it is fatigued, that the muscles are vulnerable, and it's time to rest."

Dr Launikonis said vacuoles then disappear until the next round of strenuous exercise occurs.

"Prior to this, no one had any idea this mechanism was happening.

"It tells us are very adaptive and can protect themselves."

Dr Launikonis said now that the fundamental protective mechanism was known it could help better understand wasting diseases.

"If we can further analyse this mechanism it could be used to protect patient groups with vulnerable muscles like those with muscular dystrophy—but more research is needed."

Explore further: 3-D imaging of muscles points to potential treatments for muscle diseases and injuries

More information: Tanya R. Cully et al. Human skeletal muscle plasmalemma alters its structure to change its Ca2+-handling following heavy-load resistance exercise, Nature Communications (2017). DOI: 10.1038/ncomms14266

Related Stories

3-D imaging of muscles points to potential treatments for muscle diseases and injuries

November 17, 2016
Eight million people per year in the UK suffer from muscular diseases and injuries including muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, exercise-related injuries, rotator cuff tears, and age-related muscle loss.

Eye muscles are resilient to ALS

January 26, 2017
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as ALS, is an incurable neurodegenerative disease that affects all voluntary muscles in the body leading to paralysis and breathing difficulties. Eye muscles, in contrast to other ...

Why your muscles get less sore as you stick with your gym routine

February 8, 2016
The first time back to the gym after a long break usually results in sore muscles. Fortunately, the return trip a few days later—if it happens—is generally less painful.

Body builders aren't necessarily the strongest athletes

November 3, 2016
An increase in muscle size with exercise may not be directly related to an increase in muscle strength, according to a recent analysis of the literature.

New research on the muscles of elite athletes: When quality is better than quantity

November 2, 2016
We can all recognise that feeling of muscle fatigue after taking a brisk walk, cycling, running or playing football.

Recommended for you

Drug found that induces apoptosis in myofibroblasts reducing fibrosis in scleroderma

December 15, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—An international team of researchers has found that the drug navitoclax can induce apoptosis (self-destruction) in myofibroblasts in mice, reducing the spread of fibrosis in scleroderma. In their paper ...

How defeating THOR could bring a hammer down on cancer

December 14, 2017
It turns out Thor, the Norse god of thunder and the Marvel superhero, has special powers when it comes to cancer too.

Researchers track muscle stem cell dynamics in response to injury and aging

December 14, 2017
A new study led by researchers at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) describes the biology behind why muscle stem cells respond differently to aging or injury. The findings, published in Cell Stem Cell, ...

'Human chronobiome' study informs timing of drug delivery, precision medicine approaches

December 13, 2017
Symptoms and efficacy of medications—and indeed, many aspects of the human body itself—vary by time of day. Physicians tell patients to take their statins at bedtime because the related liver enzymes are more active during ...

Study confirms link between the number of older brothers and increased odds of being homosexual

December 12, 2017
Groundbreaking research led by a team from Brock University has further confirmed that sexual orientation for men is likely determined in the womb.

Potassium is critical to circadian rhythms in human red blood cells

December 12, 2017
An innovative new study from the University of Surrey and Cambridge's MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, published in the prestigious journal Nature Communications, has uncovered the secrets of the circadian rhythms in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.