There are no studies that define the optimum intensity or time to begin exercising reinnervating muscle. Through overwork of reinnervating muscle, accomplished by synergistic tenotomy, we developed a working hypothesis. This hypothesis was tested on a physiological model. In the present study, the sciatic nerve of five groups of rats was crushed. One group served as the control and the remaining animals were exercised by swimming with weights attached to their tails for one or two hours each day (early reinnervation group) or four weeks (late reinnervating group) after crush denervation. The evaluation of muscle weights, fibre types, and protein concentration indicate that intense swimming (two hours every day) does not enhance the repair of reinnervation muscle. An evaluation of total proteins suggests that a high workload may be hazardous in the early phase of reinnervation. This study tends to confirm the hypothesis that when there are too few contractile units, as presumably is the case in early reinnervation, exercise inhibits the reinnervation process.
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