Inami, T, Nakagawa, K, Yonezu, T, Fukano, M, Higashihara, A, Iizuka, S, Abe, T, and Narita, T. Tracking of time-dependent changes in muscle hardness after a full marathon. J Strength Cond Res 33(12): 3431-3437, 2019-We sought to identify changes in individual muscle hardness after a full marathon and to track time-dependent changes using ultrasound strain elastography (SE). Twenty-one collegiate marathon runners were recruited. Muscle hardness (i.e., strain ratio, SR) was measured using SE for the rectus femoris (RF), vastus lateralis (VL), biceps femoris (BF) long head, tibialis anterior (TA), gastrocnemius medial (GM) head, and soleus (SOL) muscles at the following time points: pre (PRE), immediately post (POST), day-1 (D1), day-3 (D3), and day-8 (D8), after a full marathon. We found that the SR decreased after the full marathon (i.e., the muscle became harder), and that the lowest SR across all measured muscles was observed on D1. Although there was no difference in the magnitude of change in SR between the muscles of the thigh, that of the MG and SOL were significantly larger than that of the TA. Muscle hardness in the vastus lateralis, biceps femoris, and SOL recovered at D8 (i.e., nonsignificant difference from PRE), whereas recovery of rectus femoris and gastrocnemius medial hardness at D8 was not observed. Thus, the degree of change in muscle hardness does not occur uniformly within the lower extremity muscles. In particular, changes in muscle hardness of the TA after a full marathon are small compared with other muscles and time-dependent changes in each muscle vary during recovery. The features of muscle hardness identified in this study will be useful for coaches when mentoring runners on proper forms and for training advisers and therapists who seek to address deficiencies in running.
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