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bibliography * The PainScience Bibliography contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers and others sources, like a specialized blog. This page is about a single scientific paper in the bibliography, O'Neill 2018.

Acute sensory and motor response to 45-s heavy isometric holds for the plantar flexors in patients with Achilles tendinopathy

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Tags: tendinosis, strength, Achilles tendinitis, pain problems, overuse injury, injury, exercise, self-treatment, treatment

PainSci summary of O'Neill 2018?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided at the bottom of the page, as often as possible. ★★☆☆☆?2-star ratings are for studies with flaws, bias, and/or conflict of interest; published in lesser journals. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.

This is a tiny “exploratory” trial of the short term effects of plantar flexor contraction for Achilles tendinitis. Specifically, intense isometric contraction: just holding a heavy load without moving. And where did this exploration lead? To a dead end: the effects were varied and there was no clear benefit, for whatever it’s worth from a tiny test of just 16 people (it’s worth something, just not a lot). The authors conclude: “heavy 45-s isometric contractions cannot be recommended for immediate pain relief or improved motor output.”

original abstractAbstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to explore the immediate effects of heavy isometric plantar flexor exercise on sensory output (pain during a functional task and mechanical pain sensitivity) and motor output (plantar flexor torque) in individuals with Achilles tendinopathy. METHODS: Sixteen subjects with Achilles tendinopathy participated in the study, mean (SD) age 48.6 (8.9) years and Victorian institute assessment-Achilles (VISA-A) score 61.3 (23.0). Sensory testing assessing pain during a functional task, mechanical pain sensitivity and motor output, and plantar flexor peak torque was completed prior to the intervention. All subjects completed a 45-s heavy isometric plantar flexor contraction and were then re-tested using the same sensory and motor tests. Motor output was assessed using isokinetic dynamometry at speeds previously identified as of interest in subjects with Achilles tendinopathy. RESULTS: Only 9 of the 16 subjects experienced pain during a functional task, self-reported pain was 4.2 (1.9) numerical rating scale (NRS) pre-intervention and 4.9 (3.2) NRS postintervention (n.s.). Mechanical pressure sensitivity was 446.5 (± 248.5) g/mm2 pre-intervention and 411.8 (± 211.8) g/mm2 post-intervention (n.s.). Mean concentric plantar flexor torque at 90 and 225°/s was 47.1 (14.5) and 33.6 (11.6) Nm, respectively, pre-intervention and 53.0 (18.5) and 33.4 (6.6) Nm post-intervention (p = 0.039 and n.s.). Eccentric torque at 90°/s was 98.5 (34.2) Nm preintervention versus 106.0 (41.4) Nm post-intervention (n.s.). CONCLUSION: In this exploratory study, patients with Achilles tendinopathy had a varied sensory and motor output response to heavy isometric contractions. Using the recommended approach of heavy 45-s isometric contractions did not offer a meaningful acute benefit for sensory or motor output for subjects with Achilles tendinopathy. Based on this study, heavy 45-s isometric contractions cannot be recommended for immediate pain relief or improved motor output for patients with Achilles tendinopathy.

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