Eccentric contraction is a medical term which describes a type of muscle action where the muscle lengthens whilst generating force against an opposing resistance. This type of contraction occurs when the force generated by the muscle is less than the external load and is commonly referred to as a ‘negative’ contraction.
Eccentric contractions are often associated with the muscle soreness that occurs after exercise, known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). This is due to the microscopic damage caused to muscle fibers during eccentric contractions. However, eccentric contractions are also beneficial to rehabilitation and injury prevention. They can enhance muscle strength, power, and flexibility, and are therefore used in exercise programs to improve functional performance.
Eccentric contractions are used in exercises such as squats, deadlifts, and lunges, where the muscle lengthens whilst under tension and load. These exercises target the eccentric phase of muscle contraction, which can be more advantageous in building strength than the concentric phase, where the muscle contracts whilst shortening.
Eccentric contractions are also commonly used in rehabilitation, where controlled eccentric loading can improve muscle function and aid in injury recovery. For example, eccentric contractions have been shown to be effective in rehabilitating hamstring strains, Achilles tendinopathy, and patellar tendinopathy.
In conclusion, eccentric contraction is an important medical term used to describe a specific type of muscle action that occurs when the muscle lengthens whilst generating force against an opposing resistance. Eccentric contractions are often associated with muscle soreness, but they can also be beneficial in building strength, power, and flexibility, and are commonly used in exercise programs and rehabilitation settings. Understanding eccentric contractions can be helpful in designing exercise programs and injury rehabilitation plans for athletes and individuals of all fitness levels.