Journal of Trainology



December 2012; Vol. 1, No. 2: Pages 36-44

Exercise-induced muscle damage: is it detrimental or beneficial?

Robert S. Thiebaud


Exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD) is a well-known phenomenon that happens after performing lengthening contractions or unaccustomed exercise. Many studies have tried to reduce this muscle damage yet muscle damage is also known to produce a protective effect against future damaging exercise bouts. Objective: The purpose of this paper was to briefly discuss how EIMD can result in negative consequences and examine evidence for or against potential benefits of EIMD. Design and Methods: Non-systematic review. Results: EIMD is detrimental in that it produces prolonged decreases in force and decreased exercise performance. If muscle damage is severe it may result in exercise-induced rhabdomyolysis and when it occurs in combination with dehydration or heat stress, it may potentially lead to life threatening issues such as acute kidney failure. Despite its detrimental effects, some have suggested possible benefits from EIMD. The potential benefits of EIMD include the repeated bout effect and muscle hypertrophy but these benefits can be produced without inducing EIMD. Conclusion: After examining the detrimental and beneficial effects of EIMD, it seems that the detrimental effects outweigh any possible benefits of EIMD and many of the proposed benefits (repeated bout effect and hypertrophy) can be produced without EIMD.

Received August 13, 2012; accepted December 3, 2012