Sex Differences in Neuromuscular Fatigue and Changes in Cost of Running after Mountain Trail Races of Various Distances

Thibault Besson, Audrey Parent, Callum G. Brownstein, Loïc Espeit, Thomas Lapole, Vincent Martin, Nicolas Royer, Diana Rimaud, Frederic Sabater Pastor, Benjamin Singh, Giorgio Varesco, Jeremy Rossi, John Temesi, Guillaume Y. Millet*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)


INTRODUCTION: Women have been shown to experience less neuromuscular fatigue than men in knee extensors (KE) and less peripheral fatigue in plantar flexors (PF) after ultratrail running, but it is unknown if these differences exist for shorter trail running races and whether this may impact running economy. The purpose of this study was to characterize sex differences in fatigability over a range of running distances and to examine possible differences in the postrace alteration of the cost of running (Cr). METHODS: Eighteen pairs of men and women were matched by performance after completing different races ranging from 40 to 171 km, divided into SHORT versus LONG races (<60 and >100 km, respectively). Neuromuscular function and Cr were tested before and after each race. Neuromuscular function was evaluated on both KE and PF with voluntary and evoked contractions using electrical nerve (KE and PF) and transcranial magnetic (KE) stimulation. Oxygen uptake, respiratory exchange ratio, and ventilation were measured on a treadmill and used to calculate Cr. RESULTS: Compared with men, women displayed a smaller decrease in maximal strength in KE (-36% vs -27%, respectively, P < 0.01), independent of race distance. In SHORT only, women displayed less peripheral fatigue in PF compared with men (Δ peak twitch: -10% vs -24%, respectively, P < 0.05). Cr increased similarly in men and women. CONCLUSIONS: Women experience less neuromuscular fatigue than men after both "classic" and "extreme" prolonged running exercises but this does not impact the degradation of the energy Cr.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2374-2387
Number of pages14
JournalMedicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (MSSE)
Issue number11
Early online date7 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021


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