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SUMMARYExperiments were performed to test the ability of human subjects to match forces in their elbow flexor muscles following eccentric exercise of one arm and, in a second series, after biceps brachii of one arm had been made sore by injection of hypertonic saline.In the force-matching task, the elbow flexors of one arm, the reference arm, generated 30% of maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) under visual control. Subjects matched that level with their other arm, the indicator arm, without visual feedback.After eccentric exercise of elbow flexors of the indicator arm, subjects felt they had achieved a satisfactory match while indicating forces that were significantly lower, by approximately 5%, than the reference level. Errors were in the opposite direction (i.e. forces were overestimated) when the reference arm was exercised.Errors were reduced when matching forces were expressed as fractions of the sessional MVC rather than the pre-exercise MVC. Residual errors from 24 h postexercise onwards were attributed to muscle soreness from the exercise.In support of this view, a similar pattern of matching errors was observed when an unexercised arm was made sore by injection of hypertonic saline into the biceps.It is concluded that muscle soreness can interfere with a subject's ability to match forces, perhaps as a result of a reduced excitability of motor cortex. It implies that muscle soreness may contribute to the weakness experienced after a period of unaccustomed eccentric exercise.

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