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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2007 Oct;103(4):1318-25. Epub 2007 Jul 19.

Postactivation potentiation in a human muscle: effect on the load-velocity relation of tetanic and voluntary shortening contractions.

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Laboratory of Applied Biology, Université Libre de Bruxelles, 28 Ave. P. Héger, CP 168, 1000 Brussels, Belgium.


Recently it was demonstrated that postactivation potentiation (PAP), which refers to the enhancement of the muscle twitch torque as a result of a prior conditioning contraction, increased the maximal rate of torque development of tetanic and voluntary isometric contractions (3). In this study, we investigated the effects of PAP and its decay over time on the load-velocity relation. To that purpose, angular velocity of thumb adduction in response to a single electrical stimulus (twitch), a high-frequency train of 15 pulses at 250 Hz (HFT(250)), and during ballistic voluntary shortening contractions, performed against loads ranging from 10 to 50% of the maximum torque, were recorded before and after a conditioning 6-s maximal voluntary contraction (MVC). The results showed an increase of the peak angular velocity for the different loads tested after the conditioning MVC (P < 0.001), but the effect was greatest for the twitch ( approximately 182%) compared with the HFT(250) or voluntary contractions ( approximately 14% for both contraction types). The maximal potentiation occurred immediately following the conditioning MVC for the twitch, whereas it was reached 1 min later for the tetanic and ballistic voluntary contractions. At that time, the load-velocity relation was significantly shifted upward, and the maximal power of the muscle was increased ( approximately 13%; P < 0.001). Furthermore, the results also indicated that the effect of PAP on shortening contractions was not related to the modality of muscle activation. In conclusion, the findings suggest a functional significance of PAP in human movements by improving muscle performance of voluntary dynamic contractions.

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