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J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2003 Feb;13(1):93-101.

Motor unit activation patterns during isometric, concentric and eccentric actions at different force levels.

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Neuromuscular Research Center, Department of Biology of Physical Activity, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland.


Motor unit activation patterns were studied during four different force levels of concentric and eccentric actions. Eight male subjects performed concentric and eccentric forearm flexions with the movement range from 100 degrees to 60 degrees in concentric and from 100 degrees to 140 degrees elbow angle in eccentric actions. The movements were started either from zero preactivation or with isometric preactivation of the force levels of 20, 40, 60 and 80% MVC. The subjects were then instructed to maintain the corresponding relative force levels during the dynamic actions. Intramuscular and surface EMG was recorded from biceps brachii muscle. Altogether 28 motoneuron pools were analyzed using the intramuscular spike-amplitude frequency (ISAF) analysis technique of Moritani et al. The mean spike amplitude was lower and the mean spike frequency higher in the isometric preactivation phase than in the consequent concentric and eccentric actions. When the movements started with isometric preactivation the mean spike amplitude increased significantly (P<0.001) up to 80% in isometric and concentric actions but in eccentric actions the increase continued only up to 60% (P<0.01). The mean spike frequency in isometric preactivation and in concentric action with preactivation was lower only at the 20% force level (P<0.01) as compared to the other force levels while in eccentric action with preactivation the increase between the force levels was significant (P<0.01) up to 60%. When the movement was started without preactivation the mean spike amplitude at 20% and at 40% force level was higher (P<0.01) in eccentric action than in concentric actions. It was concluded that the recruitment threshold may be lower in dynamic as compared to isometric actions. The recruitment of fast motor units may continue to higher force levels in isometric and in concentric as in eccentric actions which, on the other hand, seems to achieve the higher forces by increasing the firing rate of the active units. At the lower force levels mean spike amplitude was higher in eccentric than in concentric actions which might indicate selective activation of fast motor units. This was, however, the case only when the movements were started without isometric preactivation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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