JOURNAL ARTICLE

Agonist-antagonist common drive during fatiguing knee extension efforts using surface electromyography

Hugh Mullany, Mark O'Malley, Alan St Clair Gibson, Christopher Vaughan
Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology 2002, 12 (5): 375-84
12223170

AIM: This study examined the electromyographic (EMG) activity of knee extensor agonists and a knee extensor antagonist muscle during fatiguing isometric extensions across a range of force levels.

METHODS: Five female subjects performed isometric knee extensions at 25%, 50%, 75% and 100% of their maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) with the knee flexed to 75 degrees. Surface EMG (SEMG) was recorded with bipolar electrodes from the vastus lateralis (VL), vastus medialis (VM), rectus femoris (RF) and biceps femoris (BF) and the root-mean-squared (RMS) amplitude and the percentage frequency compression of these recordings were calculated. Commonality and cross talk between recordings were also examined.

RESULTS: Cross talk between recordings was deemed negligible despite significant levels of commonality between the agonist and antagonist SEMG, which was attributed to common drive. SEMG RMS amplitude increased significantly for all muscles during the 25%, 50%, 75% MVC knee extensions until task failure, and decreased significantly for 100% MVC. The frequency spectrum of the SEMG compressed significantly for all muscles and % MVC levels. The VM, VL and BF SEMG recordings responded similarly to fatigue. The RF's frequency spectrum compressed to a significantly higher degree.

CONCLUSIONS: The VM, VL, RF, and BF fatigue in parallel, with high similarity between VM, VL and BF, giving support to the concept of a shared agonist-antagonist motoneuron pool.

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