The Effects of Pre-conditioning on Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Boyd, Lachlan, Deakin, Glen B., Devantier-Thomas, Baily, Singh, Utkarsh, and Doma, Kenji (2023) The Effects of Pre-conditioning on Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Sports Medicine, 53. pp. 1537-1557.

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Background: Several studies have utilised isometric, eccentric and downhill walking pre-conditioning as a strategy for alleviating the signs and symptoms of exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD) following a bout of damaging physical activity. Objectives: This systematic review and meta-analysis examined the effects of pre-conditioning strategies on indices of muscle damage and physical performance measures following a second bout of strenuous physical activity. Data Sources: PubMed, CINAHL and Scopus. Eligibility Criteria: Studies meeting the PICO (population, intervention/exposure, comparison, and outcome) criteria were included in this review: (1) general population or “untrained” participants with no contraindications affecting physical performance; (2) studies with a parallel design to examine the prevention and severity of muscle-damaging contractions; (3) outcome measures were compared using baseline and post-intervention measures; and (4) outcome measures included any markers of indirect muscle damage and muscular contractility measures. Participants: Individuals with no resistance training experiences in the previous 6 or more months. Interventions: A single bout of pre-conditioning exercises consisting of eccentric or isometric contractions performed a minimum of 24 h prior to a bout of damaging physical activity were compared to control interventions that did not perform pre-conditioning prior to damaging physical activity. Study Appraisal: Kmet appraisal system. Synthesis Methods: Quantitative analysis was conducted using forest plots to examine standardised mean differences (SMD, i.e. effect size), test statistics for statistical significance (i.e. Z-values) and between-study heterogeneity by inspecting I2. Results: Following abstract and full-text screening, 23 articles were included in this paper. Based on the meta-analysis, the pre-conditioning group exhibited lower levels of creatine kinase at 24 h (SMD = − 1.64; Z = 8.39; p = 0.00001), 48 h (SMD = − 2.65; Z = 7.78; p = 0.00001), 72 h (SMD = − 2.39; Z = 5.71; p = 0.00001) and 96 h post-exercise (SMD = − 3.52; Z = 7.39; p = 0.00001) than the control group. Delayed-onset muscle soreness was also lower for the pre-conditioning group at 24 h (SMD = − 1.89; Z = 6.17; p = 0.00001), 48 h (SMD = − 2.50; Z = 7.99; p = 0.00001), 72 h (SMD = − 2.73; Z = 7.86; p = 0.00001) and 96 h post-exercise (SMD = − 3.30; Z = 8.47; p = 0.00001). Maximal voluntary contraction force was maintained and returned to normal sooner in the pre-conditioning group than in the control group, 24 h (SMD = 1.46; Z = 5.49; p = 0.00001), 48 h (SMD = 1.59; Z = 6.04; p = 0.00001), 72 h (SMD = 2.02; Z = 6.09; p = 0.00001) and 96 h post-exercise (SMD = 2.16; Z = 5.69; p = 0.00001). Range of motion was better maintained by the pre-conditioning group compared with the control group at 24 h (SMD = 1.48; Z = 4.30; p = 0.00001), 48 h (SMD = 2.20; Z = 5.64; p = 0.00001), 72 h (SMD = 2.66; Z = 5.42; p = 0.00001) and 96 h post-exercise (SMD = 2.5; Z = 5.46; p = 0.00001). Based on qualitative analyses, pre-conditioning activities were more effective when performed at 2–4 days before the muscle-damaging protocol compared with immediately prior to the muscle-damaging protocol, or 1–3 weeks prior to the muscle-damaging protocol. Furthermore, pre-conditioning activities performed using eccentric contractions over isometric contractions, with higher volumes, greater intensity and more lengthened muscle contractions provided greater protection from EIMD. Limitations: Several outcome measures showed high inter-study heterogeneity. The inability to account for differences in durations between pre-conditioning and the second bout of damaging physical activity was also limiting. Conclusions: Pre-conditioning significantly reduced the severity of creatine kinase release, delayed-onset muscle soreness, loss of maximal voluntary contraction force and the range of motion decrease. Pre-conditioning may prevent severe EIMD and accelerate recovery of muscle force generation capacity.

Item ID: 79034
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1179-2035
Copyright Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Date Deposited: 04 Jul 2023 00:33
FoR Codes: 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4207 Sports science and exercise > 420799 Sports science and exercise not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 20 HEALTH > 2004 Public health (excl. specific population health) > 200408 Injury prevention and control @ 100%
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