What is Eccentric vs. Concentric Muscle Contraction?
Concentric Contraction: Concentric contraction occurs when a muscle is activated and begins to shorten against a load. The raising of a weight during a biceps curl is a concentric contraction.
Eccentric Contraction: Eccentric contractions occur when the muscle is lengthening during contraction. The lowering of the weight slowly during a biceps curl is an eccentric contraction. Eccentric contractions occur constantly throughout the activities of daily living. During movements such as walking the quad muscles stabilize and control the frame of the body while they are actively contracting and lengthening.
The Importance of Eccentric Contraction:
Sports Medicine research has shown that eccentric contracts are better at building muscle mass, strengthening and repairing connective tissue including tendons and ligaments. There is evidence that eccentric contractions even help increase flexibility.
For minor injuries and tendonitis conditions your practitioner may prescribe eccentric exercises as a home care therapy. The practitioner will explain the exercise carefully in order to fully take advantage of the eccentric phase of contraction. Moving very slowly and controlled during the contraction is essential to maximizing the benefit of the exercise. Moving too quickly or using too heavy a weight can actually damage the tissue.