Exploring the Science Behind Muscular Actions

Etymology of eccentric/concentric contractions

The etymology of the words “eccentric” and “concentric” can be traced back to their Latin roots.

The word “eccentric” originates from the Latin word “eccentricus,” which is derived from the Greek words “ek” (meaning “out”) and “kentron” (meaning “center”). Thus, “eccentric” literally means “out of center” or “away from the center.”

In the context of muscle contractions, an eccentric contraction refers to when the muscle lengthens as it contracts. This occurs when a muscle is actively overcoming a greater force or load than it can produce. For example, when you slowly lower a weight during a bicep curl, the bicep muscle is undergoing an eccentric contraction.

On the other hand, the word “concentric” stems from the Latin word “concentricus,” combining “con-” (meaning “together” or “with”) and “centrum” (meaning “center”). Therefore, “concentric” signifies “together at the center” or “towards the center.”

Regarding muscle contractions, a concentric contraction describes the shortening of a muscle as it contracts against resistance. This happens when the force produced by the muscle is greater than the external force pulling against it. For example, during a bicep curl, as you lift the weight towards your shoulder, your bicep muscle is experiencing a concentric contraction.

Understanding the etymology of these terms helps convey the fundamental concept that eccentric and concentric contractions refer to muscle actions occurring in relation to the center or midline of the body.

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