Wspólnotowy Serwis Informacyjny Badan i Rozwoju - CORDIS

Final Activity Report Summary - GENDERREFLEX (A study on the effect of gender in human skeletomuscular reflexes)

Gender-based differences in muscle performance have begun to receive attention especially since gender has been found to be one of the important factors in the incidence of sports injuries. It has been claimed that females in general have, weaker muscles and tendons. Males on the other hand are advantaged, especially after the age of puberty, with their stronger muscles and tendons. These factors make male muscles more stiff, tendons less yielding and hence joints more stable.

We wished to re-examine these claims using unique stimulation and analysis techniques especially since the number of studies supporting the above view is only a handful and none of the previous studies examined gender, age and muscle fatigue factors in combination. Furthermore, the classical techniques that are used to study muscle reflexes to date have recently been proven to contain significant errors.

In our project, firstly we have aimed to test a newly developed unique methodology for determining human reflexes. Secondly, using this new technique, to determine whether there is a genuine gender-based difference in muscle reflex responses and whether these differences vary age of individuals. Thirdly, to advice researchers and general public on possible gender-based differences in muscle reflex activity and to develop the prophylactic strategies involved in late age physical activity that can be beneficial to the older population.

We have so far achieved the first aim and showed that the novel technique that we have developed in brain slices can now be used in human muscle reflex studies with confidence. Regarding the second aim, we have completed the investigation of the effect of gender, age and muscle fatigue on the muscle reflexes and tendon properties. For the second aim, we have shown that the muscle reflexes and tendon stiffness were not significantly different between the genders. However, in both genders, the tendons became weaker with advancing age. Regarding the third aim, the Chair has delivered a large number of seminars/invited lectures and public addresses not only to disseminate information obtained in our experiments and receive valuable feedback, but also to increase awareness on the importance of the skeletomuscular reflexes and tendons for understanding and eventually preventing muscle/tendon injuries during exercise.

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