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The Effects of Muscular Fatigue

By Kimberly Day ; Updated August 14, 2017

Muscle fatigue is a condition that is usually brought on by physical action and is completely reversible once the body has recovered from physical exertion. Fatigue is the failure to maintain the required or expected force from a muscle following repeated activity of the muscle. Muscular fatigue occurs when multiple sites fail during muscular exertion.

Central and Local Fatigue

Muscle fatigue falls into one of two categories: central or local. Central fatigue involves the central nervous system. The CNS protects your muscles from injury by acting as a regulator for your body. It tells the body to slow down by reducing the rate of nerve impulses sent to the muscles. Local fatigue occurs when metabolic systems such as ATP, glycolysis and oxidation limit the body’s ability to perform muscular work. These systems act as fuel to your body and once those fuel reserves are tapped out muscle fatigue occurs.

Variable Effects

The effects of muscle fatigue vary from person to person. Some people will feel involuntary muscle contractions in the targeted muscle groups. Soreness in the muscles can occur due to the buildup of lactic acid. Other effects of muscle fatigue may include feeling lethargic and a burning or tingling sensation in the muscles.

Diet and Hydration

Muscle fatigue can’t totally be overcome, but it can be delayed. Ways to do this are through diet and hydration.. A balanced diet that includes an adequate ratio of carbs, fats and proteins will help to fuel the body for longer periods of time. Hydration is critical to maintaining muscle function. A 10 to 20 percent muscle contraction decrease can occur if your body’s water level decreases by three to four percent.

Rest and Recovery

Recovery periods during exercise are another key element to fighting muscle fatigue. You should rest in between sets just long enough to catch your breath and if you are exercising small muscle groups you only need about 45 seconds. If you're lifting heavy weights, rest 90 seconds between sets. Stretch your muscles after exercising to prevent cramping. Wait up to 48 hours to exercise after muscle fatigue.

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