Muscle fiber typology: link between fatigue and muscle strain injury risk

01 October 2017 → Ongoing
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
No data available
Muscle fiber typology
Project description

Strain injury is a contraction-induced damage to skeletal muscle, also known as an overstretched

or teared muscle. It is a very common and frequently recurring injury in most team sports

and sprinting activities and is especially frequent in the hamstrings muscles. A better insight in the

predisposing factors would allow to reduce the high incidence of strain injury in sports. The

current project investigates whether athletes with a high proportion of fast-twitch muscle fibers

are more prone to strain injury than athletes with predominantly slow-twitch fibers. An underlying

mechanism could be an accumulation of muscle fatigue in the former as 1) fast-twitch fibers have

a markedly delayed recovery from fatigue, and 2) fatigue is a known risk factor for strain injury. A

fast muscle typology seems a logic risk factor for strain injury, as has been suggested in vitro

experiments. However, it was never tested in the actual sports population, because the only

available method to quantify muscle fiber type composition was a histological evaluation of an

invasive muscle biopsy. Yet, we have recently developed a non-invasive method in athletes by

proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy. This will allow us to investigate, in an elite team sport

population, if muscle typology is a risk factor, and importantly, to develop guidelines for adequate

recovery times from intensive training in a personalized manner, with the ultimate goal to reduce

muscle strain injury incidence in sports.