Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Why Do Muscles Fatigue?

Paint me a skeptic whenever the mainstream press cites findings of a scientific study. Today's New York Times Science Section has an article entitled Finding May Solve Riddle of Fatigue in Muscles.

Essentially the problem with muscle fatigue "is calcium flow inside muscle cells. Ordinarily, ebbs and flows of calcium in cells control muscle contractions. But when muscles grow tired, the investigators report, tiny channels in them start leaking calcium, and that weakens contractions. At the same time, the leaked calcium stimulates an enzyme that eats into muscle fibers, contributing to the muscle exhaustion."

After reading the article, which is fairly interesting, my eyebrows pulled a muscle (the frontalis) when I got to this part, "So the day may come when there is an anti-fatigue drug." Oh, please. This is where lifestyle/science reporters jump the shark to juice up science writing. The research was being done to study ways in which to better treat people with congestive heart failure.

Yet Dr. Steven Liggett, a heart-failure researcher (just in time for Valentine's Day) at the University of Maryland has the best quote. Wondering if the body's fatigue signals work as a "protective mechanism", he states, "maybe fatigue is saying that you are getting ready to go into a danger zone. So it is cutting you off. If you could will yourself to run as fast and as long as you could, some people would run until they keeled over and died."

Wait, I know these people. They don't keel over and die. They fill up their water bottles, grab a few cookies and set out for the next pass over yonder.

1 comment:

Scott Dunlap said...

hey, aren't you one of those people? :-)

Thx for volunteering at the Woodside 50k. You guys were the real champions to brave that storm!

Great blog!