It is well-known that it is essential to prepare your muscles for a workout. But what happens to our muscles when we warm up, and are they all the same? Astonishingly, the scientific basis of this customary action had not always been understood.
A research team, headed by Osaka University, The Jikei University School of Medicine, and the National Institutes for Quantum Science and Technology, recently published their work in the Journal of General Physiology demonstrating how heat can influence muscle contraction and potentially enhance exercise performance for those who need it.
Researchers have previously investigated the influence of temperature on cardiac muscle contraction, finding that our heart functions optimally within the body temperature range. Now, the team has turned their attention to skeletal muscle, examining the electrical signals from the nervous system that trigger its contraction and enable us to move.
Then, the investigators looked to muscle proteins and advanced microscopy to discern the effect of temperature on skeletal muscle: was the sensitivity to temperature of skeletal muscles comparable, or did they differ from cardiac muscle?
The investigation concluded that certain proteins in muscle cells perform as a temperature gauge and that the effect of heating is distinctive for skeletal and cardiac contractile systems. Co-lead author Kotaro Oyama commented “Our discoveries implicate disparities in the warmth sensitivity of proteins responsible for contraction in skeletal as opposed to cardiac muscles. Basically, the muscle that allows us to move is more responsive to heat than the heart.”
The implications of these discoveries are evident when one takes into account the contrast between skeletal and cardiac muscle performance. Skeletal muscle provides a set amount of power whenever it is required, while the heart is intended to keep on beating continually.
Shuya Ishii, co-lead author, explains that the faster response of skeletal muscle to a rise in temperature, as compared to the heart, can be beneficial in terms of energy conservation and rest. This is because the skeletal muscle is able to contract quickly when warmed up by only a slight amount of movement or exercise. On the other hand, the lower temperature sensitivity of the heart may be more helpful in keeping its continuous beat, regardless of temperature.
This research has unveiled new knowledge regarding how, at the protein level, warm-up activities before physical exertion can augment muscular performance. It has been found that certain muscle proteins serve as a temperature gauge, leading to the possibility of a novel hyperthermia method in which the power of the skeletal muscle is increased by heating up the muscle. Adding suitable warm-up routines to the daily regimens of people, particularly those of advanced age, can improve their muscle and exercise capability, thus helping to lower the likelihood of harm and preserving their autonomy.
Article Source:Research provided by Osaka University, Japan. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
Journal Reference:Shuya Ishii, Kotaro Oyama, Fuyu Kobirumaki-Shimozawa, Tomohiro Nakanishi, Naoya Nakahara, Madoka Suzuki, Shin’ichi Ishiwata, Norio Fukuda. Myosin and tropomyosin–troponin complementarily regulate thermal activation of muscles. Journal of General Physiology, 2023; 155 (12) DOI: 10.1085/jgp.202313414