Eccentric exercise and delayed onset muscle soreness reduce the variability of active cervical movements

Feras Alsultan, Corrado Cescon, Nicola R Heneghan, Alison Rushton, Marco Barbero, Deborah Falla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


People with acute neck pain commonly present with restricted neck movement. However, it is unknown whether the presence of acute pain affects the quality of neck movement, specifically neck movement variability. We examined the effects of acute neck muscle soreness induced via eccentric exercise in healthy volunteers, on the variability of neck movement by examining changes in parameters of the helical axis during active neck movements. An experimental, single-arm repeated measures study recruited 32 healthy participants, male and female, aged between 18 and 55 years. Repetitive active neck movements (flexion-extension, bilateral lateral flexion and bilateral rotation) were performed at different speeds, either at full range of motion (RoM) or restricted to 45° RoM at baseline, pre-exercise (T0), immediately following eccentric neck exercise (T1), 24 h (T2) and 48 h post-exercise (T3). The mean distance (MD) and mean angle (MA) parameters of the helical axis were extracted to quantify movement variability. MD, measured during movements performed at full RoM, reduced significantly at T2 compared to T0 (P = 0.001) regardless of direction or speed of movement. MA was significantly lower at T2 and T3 compared to T1 (P = 0.029 and P = 0.033, respectively). When RoM was restricted to 45°, significantly lower MD values were observed at T3 compared to T1 (P = 0.034), and significantly lower MA values were measured at T3 compared to T0, T1 and T2 (all P < 0.0001). This study uniquely demonstrates that neck movement variability is reduced immediately after, 24 h and 48 h after eccentric exercise, indicating that acute neck muscle soreness modifies the quality of neck movement.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109962
Pages (from-to)109962
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Jul 2020

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier Ltd.


  • Delayed-onset muscle soreness
  • Eccentric exercise
  • Movement variability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Rehabilitation


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