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Eur J Appl Physiol. 2005 Oct;95(4):321-6. Epub 2005 Oct 27.

Relationship between perceived exertion and mean power frequency of the EMG signal from the upper trapezius muscle during isometric shoulder elevation.

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  • 1Institute of Hygiene and Applied Physiology, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, 8092, Zurich, Switzerland, armin.hummel@bluewin.ch.


The aim of the study was to investigate the relationship between a fatigue-induced increase of perceived exertion in the neck with a decrease of mean power frequency (MPF) in the surface electromyography (sEMG) signal during repeated shoulder elevation endurance tasks. About Thirty-two healthy women (age range 20-62) performed two maximum 6-min shoulder elevation endurance tasks at 30% of their maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) level, separated by a rest of 6 min. During these exercises, perceived exertion was estimated using the Borg scale (range 0-10), whereas the MPF of the sEMG signal from the upper trapezius was simultaneously detected. Linear regression analysis was applied over time for each trial and subject for both MPF and Borg scale rating values. The MPF was normalized by the intercept of the linear regression analysis. The resulting slopes of normalized mean power frequency (nMPF) and Borg scale rating were correlated with each other by linear regression for both trials. In order to investigate the individual behavior of fatigue effects between trials, Delta (trial 2-trial 1) slopes of nMPF and Borg scale ratings were calculated for each subject. These slopes of nMPF and Borg scale ratings were correlated with each other as well by linear regression. The increase of Borg scale ratings, as well as the decrease of nMPF, were significantly higher in trial 2 than trial 1 (P<0.01). The results show a linear correlation between slopes of nMPF and Borg scale ratings for both trials 1 and 2 (r=0.76, P<0.01). Trial-to-trial slopes (Delta (trial 2-trial 1)) of nMPF and Borg scale rating, were also significantly correlated (r=0.68, P<0.05). Thus, the individually sensed increase of perceived exertion in the neck during trial 2 was accompanied by a simultaneously higher detected decrease of nMPF. These findings indicate a close relationship between subjective perception of exertion in the neck and objectively assessed muscle fatigue of the upper trapezius.

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