Evidence of long term muscle fatigue following prolonged intermittent contractions based on mechano- and electromyograms

K Søgaard, A K Blangsted, L V Jørgensen, P Madeleine, G Sjøgaard
Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology 2003, 13 (5): 441-50
The focus of the present study is the long term element of muscle fatigue provoked by prolonged intermittent contractions at submaximal force levels and analysed by force, surface electromyography (EMG) and mechanomyogram (MMG). It was hypothesized that fatigue related changes in mechanical performance of the biceps muscle are more strongly reflected in low than in high force test contractions, more prominent in the MMG than in the EMG signal and less pronounced following contractions controlled by visual compared to proprioceptive feedback. Further, it was investigated if fatigue induced by 30 min intermittent contractions at 30% as well as 10% of maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) lasted more than 30 min recovery. In six male subjects the EMG and MMG were recorded from the biceps brachii muscle during three sessions with fatiguing exercise at 10% with visual feedback and at 30% MVC with visual and proprioceptive feedback. EMG, MMG, and force were evaluated during isometric test contractions at 5% and 80% MVC before prolonged contraction and after 10 and 30 min of recovery. MVC decreased significantly after the fatiguing exercise in all three sessions and was still decreased even after 30 min of recovery. In the time domain significant increases after the fatiguing exercise were found only in the 5% MVC tests and most pronounced for the MMG. No consistent changes were found for neither EMG nor MMG in the frequency domain and feedback mode did not modify the results. It is concluded that long term fatigue after intermittent contractions at low force levels can be detected even after 30 min of recovery in a low force test contraction. Since the response was most pronounced in the MMG this may be a valuable variable for detection of impairments in the excitation-contraction coupling.


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