The two main phases of the mammalian cardiac cycle are contraction and relaxation; however, whether there is a connection between them in humans is not well understood. Routine exercise has been shown to improve cardiac function, morphology, and molecular signatures. Likewise, the acute and chronic changes that occur in the heart in response to injury, disease, and stress are well characterized, albeit not fully understood. In this study, we investigated how exercise and myocardial injury affect contraction–relaxation coupling. We retrospectively analyzed the correlation between the maximal speed of contraction and the maximal speed of relaxation of canine myocardium after receiving surgically induced myocardial infarction, followed by either sedentary recovery or exercise training for 10–12 wk. We used isolated right ventricular trabeculae, which were electrically paced at different lengths, frequencies, and with increasing β-adrenoceptor stimulation. In all conditions, contraction and relaxation were linearly correlated, irrespective of injury or training history. Based on these results and the available literature, we posit that contraction–relaxation coupling is a fundamental myocardial property that resides in the structural arrangement of proteins at the level of the sarcomere and that this may be regulated by the actions of cardiac myosin binding protein C (cMyBP-C) on actin and myosin.

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