Exercise-induced hypoalgesia after isometric wall squat exercise: A test-retest reliabilty study

Henrik Bjarke Vaegter, Kristian Damgaard Lyng, Fredrik Wannebo Yttereng, Mads Holst Christensen, Mathias Brandhøj Sørensen, Thomas Graven-Nielsen

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Background: Isometric exercises decrease pressure pain sensitivity in exercising and nonexercising muscles known as exercise-induced hypoalgesia (EIH). No studies have assessed the test-retest reliability of EIH after isometric exercise. This study investigated the EIH on pressure pain thresholds (PPTs) after an isometric wall squat exercise. The relative and absolute test-retest reliability of the PPT as a test stimulus and the EIH response in exercising and nonexercising muscles were calculated.

Methods: In two identical sessions, PPTs of the thigh and shoulder were assessed before and after three minutes of quiet rest and three minutes of wall squat exercise, respectively, in 35 healthy subjects. The relative test-retest reliability of PPT and EIH was determined using analysis of variance models, Person's r, and intraclass correlations (ICCs). The absolute test-retest reliability of EIH was determined based on PPT standard error of measurements and Cohen's kappa for agreement between sessions.

Results: Squat increased PPTs of exercising and nonexercising muscles by 16.8% ± 16.9% and 6.7% ± 12.9%, respectively (P < 0.001), with no significant differences between sessions. PPTs within and between sessions showed moderately strong correlations (r ≥ 0.74) and excellent (ICC ≥ 0.84) within-session (rest) and between-session test-retest reliability. EIH responses of exercising and nonexercising muscles showed no systematic errors between sessions; however, the relative test-retest reliability was low (ICCs = 0.03-0.43), and agreement in EIH responders and nonresponders between sessions was not significant (κ < 0.13, P > 0.43).

Conclusions: A wall squat exercise increased PPTs compared with quiet rest; however, the relative and absolute reliability of the EIH response was poor. Future research is warranted to investigate the reliability of EIH in clinical pain populations.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPain Medicine
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)129-137
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019

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