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Downhill Running: What Are The Effects and How Can We Adapt? A Narrative Review

Bontemps, B, Vercruyssen, F, Gruet, M and Louis, J (2020) Downhill Running: What Are The Effects and How Can We Adapt? A Narrative Review. Sports Medicine, 50. pp. 2083-2110. ISSN 0112-1642

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Downhill running (DR) is a whole-body exercise model that is used to investigate the physiological consequences of eccentric muscle actions and/or exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD). In a sporting context, DR sections can be part of running disciplines (off-road and road running) and can accentuate EIMD, leading to a reduction in performance. The purpose of this narrative review is to: (1) better inform on the acute and delayed physiological effects of DR; (2) identify and discuss, using a comprehensive approach, the DR characteristics that affect the physiological responses to DR and their potential interactions; (3) provide the current state of evidence on preventive and in-situ strategies to better adapt to DR. Key findings of this review show that DR may have an impact on exercise performance by altering muscle structure and function due to EIMD. In the majority of studies, EIMD are assessed through isometric maximal voluntary contraction, blood creatine kinase and delayed onset muscle soreness, with DR characteristics (slope, exercise duration, and running speed) acting as the main influencing factors. In previous studies, the median (25th percentile, Q1; 75th percentile, Q3) slope, exercise duration, and running speed were − 12% (− 15%; − 10%), 40 min (30 min; 45 min) and 11.3 km h−1 (9.8 km h−1; 12.9 km h−1), respectively. Regardless of DR characteristics, people the least accustomed to DR generally experienced the most EIMD. There is growing evidence to suggest that preventive strategies that consist of prior exposure to DR are the most effective to better tolerate DR. The effectiveness of in-situ strategies such as lower limb compression garments and specific footwear remains to be confirmed. Our review finally highlights important discrepancies between studies in the assessment of EIMD, DR protocols and populations, which prevent drawing firm conclusions on factors that most influence the response to DR, and adaptive strategies to DR.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 0913 Mechanical Engineering, 1106 Human Movement and Sports Sciences, 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy
Subjects: Q Science > QM Human anatomy
Q Science > QP Physiology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC1200 Sports Medicine
Divisions: Sport & Exercise Sciences
Publisher: Springer Verlag
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 10 Feb 2021 12:50
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2021 05:58
DOI or ID number: 10.1007/s40279-020-01355-z
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/14430
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