A message from your muscles—14 February 2017

New research from The University of Queensland has revealed the way human muscles recover after fatigue. ARC Future Fellow, Dr Bradley Launikonis, said most people knew all too well the feeling of muscle soreness after unaccustomed exercise, but until now no one had fundamentally described the cell physiology of the recovery process. The study found the muscle membrane system could change structure dramatically.

“We found the muscle itself has a protective mechanism stopping an individual from further damaging themselves in the days after exercise,” Dr Launikonis said. “We tested human muscle fibres from thigh biopsies at three points in an exercise cycle. We then mapped the muscle structure before an individual exercised, as well as 24 and 48 hours after. When a person partakes in unaccustomed exercise, calcium levels rise and muscles are prone to damage. 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. 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.”

Media issued by The University of Queensland.

Image: Dr Bradley Launikonis and a thigh biopsy.
Image courtesy: The University of Queensland.

Original Published Date: 
Tuesday, February 14, 2017