Endurance sports prime your brain to communicate differently with your body compared to sports based on strength, according to a new study that could provide new insight on performance and rehabilitation.

The study focused on how athletes communicate with their quadriceps muscles, located in the thighs, as researchers measured muscle responses of long distance runners, weight lifters and sedentary individuals who comprised the control group.

“The communication between the brains and (the long distance runners’) muscles was slightly different than (in) the resistance trainers and sedentary individuals,” says co-author Trent Herda of the University of Kansas in the US.

“This information also suggested that resistance trainers and those who are sedentary were more likely to fatigue sooner, among other things.”

For starters, endurance athletes are able to fire up their quadriceps muscles faster than weight lifters or sedentary individuals, according to results.

The research team recruited 15 healthy participants: five long distance runners, five who practiced weight lifting and five who led sedentary lifestyles.

The runners had been in practice for at least three years and logged 61 miles per week, on average, and the weight lifters had been training four to eight hours per week throughout a minimum of four years prior to the study.

The weight lifters were all able to squat twice their body mass, however, none of them practiced aerobic exercise such as cycling, swimming or running.

Sedentary participants had not taken part in a structured exercise programme for at least three years before the investigation began, according to the researchers.

In the study, two kinds of electrode sensors that provide an inside look at muscle activity were attached to participants’ thighs.

They were asked to extend a leg from a sitting position and, using the data provided by the electrodes, the research team measured the contractions and overall force exerted.

After extending, participants were asked to exert extra force in attempts to achieve between 40 and 70% of the total force in that muscle.

A difference in rates of muscle fibers that fired indicated that brain-to-muscle communication differed depending upon participants’ choice of sport – or lack thereof.

Sedentary participants and weight lifters had the most similar communication patterns, while the endurance athletes were faster to contract their quads.

This could mean that human beings adapt more naturally to cardio exercise than to weight lifting, say the researchers, whose experiments spawned two papers that were published in the Journal of Sports Sciences and Muscles and Nerve.

Brain And Muscles Interact Differently For Endurance Sports And Strength Training
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