Before we start, it’s important to know that there are three types of muscle contractions:
- Eccentric: we’ll talk about today!
- Concentric: Shortening of a muscle, like a bicep curl
- Isometric: No change in length of the muscle, like a plank
So what are eccentrics?
Eccentric activity is when a muscle contracts while lengthening under a load. During functional activity eccentrics are often the “brakes” of the movement, like when you walk down a hill or lower something heavy to the ground. Eccentric contraction controls a safe descend.
But why is eccentric exercise so good for rehabilitation and sports?
With eccentric exercise there is a decreased rate of cross-bridge detachments when the myofilaments of a muscle fiber are being stretched during the contraction. Therefore, eccentric contractions are believed to actually create MORE force and use LESS energy causing meaningful changes in STRENGTH, SIZE, and POWER – which is pretty neat!
Because of this, eccentric exercise is great for a number of things such a sarcopenia/osteopenia, tendon injuries, recurring injuries, and even post surgery. If you want to know more, check out here, here, and here. Don’t forget you can always ask your Wallace and Nilan PT how eccentrics can help you!