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Youths are less susceptible to exercise-induced muscle damage than adults; a systematic review with meta-analysis

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posted on 2024-02-02, 15:16 authored by John FernandesJohn Fernandes, Lawrence D. Hayes, Amelia F. Dingley, Sylvia Moeskops, Jon Oliver, Jorge Arede, Craig Twist, Laura J. Wilson

Purpose; This meta-analysis aimed to 1) provide a comparison of peak changes in indirect markers of EIMD in youths versus adults and 2) determine if the involved limb moderated this effect. Method; Studies were eligible for inclusion if they 1) provided a human youth versus adult comparison, 2) provided data on muscle strength, soreness or creatine kinase (CK) markers beyond ≥ 24 hours, 3) did not provide a recovery treatment. Effect sizes (ES) were presented alongside 95% confidence intervals. Results; EIMD exhibited larger effects on adults than in youths for muscle strength (ES=-2.01; P<0.001), muscle soreness (ES=-1.52; P<0.001) and CK (ES=-1.98; P<0.001). The random effects meta-regression examined the effects of upper- and lower-limb exercise in youths and adults was significant for muscle soreness (coefficient estimate =1.11; P< 0.001) but not muscle strength or CK (P>0.05). As such, the between-group effects for muscle soreness (ES=-2.10 versus -1.03; P<0.05) were greater in the upper- than lower-limb. Conclusion; The magnitude of EIMD in youths is substantially less than their adult counterparts, and this effect is greater in upper- than lower-limbs for muscle soreness. These findings help guide practitioners who may be concerned about the potential impact of EIMD when training youth athletes.


Published in

Pediatric Exercise Science


Human Kinetics


  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)


Fernandes, J., Hayes, L., Dingley, A., Moeskops, S., Oliver, J., Arede, J., Twist, C. and Wilson, L. (2023) 'Youths are less susceptible to exercise-induced muscle damage than adults; a systematic review with meta-analysis', Pediatric Exercise Science

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Cardiff Met Affiliation

  • Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences

Cardiff Met Authors

John Fernandes

Cardiff Met Research Centre/Group

  • Youth Physical Development

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