Purpose: Postexercise recovery rate is a vital component of designing personalized training protocols and rehabilitation plans. Tracking exercise-induced muscle damage and recovery requires sensitive tools that can probe the muscles' state and composition noninvasively. Methods: Twenty-four physically active males completed a running protocol consisting of a 60-min downhill run on a treadmill at −10% incline and 65% of maximal heart rate. Quantitative mapping of MRI T2 was performed using the echo-modulation-curve algorithm before exercise, and at two time points: 1 h and 48 h after exercise. Results: T2 values increased by 2%–4% following exercise in the primary mover muscles and exhibited further elevation of 1% after 48 h. For the antagonist muscles, T2 values increased only at the 48-h time point (2%–3%). Statistically significant decrease in the SD of T2 values was found following exercise for all tested muscles after 1 h (16%–21%), indicating a short-term decrease in the heterogeneity of the muscle tissue. Conclusion: MRI T2 relaxation time constitutes a useful quantitative marker for microstructural muscle damage, enabling region-specific identification for short-term and long-term systemic processes, and sensitive assessment of muscle recovery following exercise-induced muscle damage. The variability in T2 changes across different muscle groups can be attributed to their different role during downhill running, with immediate T2 elevation occurring in primary movers, followed by delayed elevation in both primary and antagonist muscle groups, presumably due to secondary damage caused by systemic processes.
- downhill running protocol
- muscle recovery
- quantitative MRI
- transverse relaxation time
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging