Stiffness and thickness of the upper trapezius muscle increase after repeated climbing bouts in male climbers
Authors: Sebastian Klich 1, Adam Kawczynski 1, Klaudia Sommer 2, Natalia Danek 3, Cesar Fernandez-de-las-Penas 4, 5, Lori A. Michener 6, Pascal Madeleine 7
- Department of Paralympic Sport, Wroclaw University of Health and Sport Sciences, Wroclaw, Poland
- Wroclaw University of Health and Sport Sciences, Wroclaw, Poland
- Department of Physiology and Biochemistry, Wroclaw University of Health and Sport Sciences, Wroclaw, Poland
- Department of Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Rehabilitation and Physical Medicine, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid, Spain
- Catedra Institucional en Docencia, Clinica e Investigacion en Fisioterapia: Terapia Manual, Puncion Seca y Ejercicio Terapeutico, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid, Spain
- Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, United States of America
- Department of Health Science and Technology, Sport Sciences – Performance and Technology, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark
Journal: PeerJ - Life & Environment - December 2022, 10:e14409 (DOI: 10.7717/peerj.14409)
Field & Applications:
- Fatigue / Overtraining
- Muscle development / Performance
- Injury prevention
Background: Indoor climbing involves overloading the shoulder girdle, including the rotator cuff and upper trapezius muscles. This on the field study aimed to investigate the effects of repeated climbing bouts on morphological and mechanical measures of the upper trapezius muscle.
Materials and Methods: Fifteen experienced male climbers participated in the study. Rate of perceived exertion (RPE), blood lactate concentration ([La−]b), and stiffness and thickness over four points of the upper trapezius were assessed before and after a repeated climbing exercise. The procedure for the climbing exercise consisted of five climbs for a total time of 5-minutes per climb, followed by a 5-minute rest.
Results: The analysis showed an increase from baseline to after the 3rd climb (p ≤ 0.01) for RPE and after the 5th climb for [La−]b (p ≤ 0.001). Muscle stiffness and thickness increased at all points (1–2–3–4) after the 5th climb (p ≤ 0.01). We found spatial heterogeneity in muscle stiffness and thickness; muscle stiffness was the highest at Point 4 (p ≤ 0.01), while muscle thickness reached the highest values at points 1–2 (both p ≤ 0.01). Moreover, the analysis between the dominant and non-dominant shoulder showed greater stiffness after the 1st climb at Point 1 (p = 0.004) and after the 5th climb at Point 4 (p ≤ 0.001).
Conclusions: For muscle thickness, the analysis showed significant changes in time and location between the dominant and the non-dominant shoulder. Bilateral increases in upper trapezius muscle stiffness and thickness, with simultaneous increases in RPE and blood lactate in response to consecutive climbs eliciting fatigue.
Keywords: stiffness, thickness, fatigue, overhead, shoulder
The present study showed, for the first time, changes in morphological properties of the upper trapezius muscle and fatigue-related indicators after repeated exercise protocol in recreational indoor climbers. We found significant bilateral increases in upper trapezius muscle stiffness and thickness, with simultaneous increases in RPE and blood lactate in response to consecutive climbs eliciting fatigue. Interestingly, these increases were more marked on the dominant side suggesting a higher risk of injuries on the dominant side.