Microwaves speed up muscle recovery after strength training

Strength athletes who use microwaves for their muscles a day before training recover more quickly from their workout. The treatment has an anticatabolic effect. Whether the effect is so strong that strength athletes can also build up more muscle from microwaves the sports scientists at Central University in New Delhi, India don’t say. But who knows…

Animal studies have shown that damaged muscles recover faster if they are exposed to intense heat, [J Orthop Sci. 2007 Jan;12(1):74-82.] and according to a quirky Japanese human study, heat treatment can make muscles stronger and bigger without having to train.

The Indian researcher Sumbul Zaheer wanted to know whether exposure to microwaves could protect muscles from the effects of intensive physical exertion. Microwaves are not radiant heat, but do heat up the water molecules in tissue. This is how microwave ovens work.

Half of the students did a light biceps training two days before the workout. For this they did 5 sets of 6 eccentric reps. They did this with 10 percent of the weight they would be using two days later for the heavy workout. [10% – ECC] The light training session induced their muscle fibres to produce enzymes that protect muscle cells during intensive exertion. [J Sci Med Sport. 2008 Jun;11(3):291-8.]

Microwaves speed up muscle recovery after strength training Zaheer exposed the other half of the students to heat one day before they did the heavy biceps workout. To be more precise: he gave their biceps a 150-Watt microwave diathermy treatment that lasted 20 minutes. For this he used equipment like the one on the right.

The LDH level in the blood rose by about the same amount in both groups. LDH is a marker for muscle damage. The results seem to indicate that the microwave treatment protected the muscles a little better than the light workout did.


Three days after the treatments both groups of students reported approximately the same amount of soreness.

“The present study concluded that 2 days prior light load eccentric exercise or 1 day prior heat using microwave diathermy had similar effects on muscle damage markers after maximal eccentric exercise”, the researchers wrote. “Therefore both of them can be used interchangeably as a preventive measure against muscle damage in clinical settings depending upon the availability of the equipment, therapist’s skill or knowledge and client’s preference.”

“However with time, their effects on LDH activity were found to be different. Further studies are therefore recommended to establish a more detailed analysis of the effects on changes in LDH activity by comparison up to several days post exercise.”

Effect of preconditioning by light load eccentric exercise versus heat on markers of muscle damage in collegiate males.


Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) occurs following unaccustomed or intense bouts of exercise. Previous research has demonstrated that that preconditioning with low load exercise or heat relieves muscle soreness. However, actively warming up the muscles with exercise may be an effective alternative.

This study compared preconditioning effect of light load eccentric exercise and heat using microwave diathermy on markers of muscle damage in collegiate males.

Thirty six sedentary collegiate males were randomly assigned into two experimental groups: 10% Eccentric exercise group (10% ECC group) and Microwave diathermy group (MWD group). Both the groups performed 30 repetitions of maximal eccentric exercise (Max-ECC) of the elbow flexors. The 10% ECC group performed light load eccentric exercise (10% ECC), five sets, six repetitions using a dumbbell set at 10% of maximal voluntary isometric contraction strength (MVC), 2 days prior to Max-ECC. The MWD group received heat using microwave diathermy (150 watts, 20 minutes) one day prior to Max-ECC. Changes in MVC, range of motion (ROM), upper arm circumference, soreness, were assessed before and 24-72 hours after whereas serum creatine kinase activity and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) activity up to 48 hours following the Max-ECC were compared between groups by a mixed model ANOVA.

No significant difference (P > 0.05) were found between the groups for changes in all variables post Max-ECC, except for LDH activity showing significant interaction effect (P = 0.04).

Preconditioning with light load eccentric exercise and heat using microwave diathermy treatment did not differ in their effects on muscle damage markers after Max-ECC. However, with time their effects on LDH activity were found to be different.

PMID: 25520766 [PubMed] PMCID: PMC4267486

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25520766

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