Changes in soleus motoneuron pool reflex excitability and surface EMG parameters during fatiguing low- vs. high-intensity isometric contractions

M Pääsuke, L Rannama, J Ereline, H Gapeyeva, V Oöpik
Electromyography and Clinical Neurophysiology 2007, 47 (7): 341-50
The fatigue-related changes in soleus motoneuron pool reflex excitability and surface electromyography (EMG) parameters, and maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) force of the plantarflexor (PF) muscles during repeatedly sustained low- (30% MVC) vs. high-intensity (70% MVC) isometric contractions were evaluated Twelve young men with mean (+/- SE) age of 22.4 +/- 0.3 years participated in two fatigue tasks on separate days with at least 1-week interval. The fatigue task consisted of three sustained isometric contractions of PF muscles at a target force level until exhaustion separated with 2-min pause between contractions. M-wave (muscle compound action potential) amplitude (M(max)), Hoffmann reflex maximal amplitude (H(max)) to M-wave amplitude ratio (H(max)/M(max)), and root mean square amplitude (RMS) and median frequency (MF) of EMG power spectrum were recorded from the soleus muscle. The M(max) remained constant immediately post-fatigue and during recovery for low- and high-intensity fatigue tasks, whereas H(max)/M(max) was significantly (p < 0.05) reduced only after high-intensity fatigue task. The increase in RMS and decrease in MF during isometric contractions, and reduction in MVC force immediately after the exercise was greater (p < 0.05) for low-intensity fatigue task. We conclude that low-intensity isometric contractions, repeatedly sustained to fatigue, resulted in a marked increase in the EMG amplitude and spectral compression without a significant post-fatigue reflex inhibition of soleus motoneuron pool. High-intensity contractions, however, resulted in post-fatigue reflex inhibition of soleus motoneuron pool and less pronounced EMG spectral compression during fatiguing contractions. A failure of neuromuscular transmission-propagation was not evident after repetitive fatiguing isometric contractions.


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