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J Appl Physiol (1985). 1990 Nov;69(5):1810-20.

Myoelectric manifestations of fatigue in voluntary and electrically elicited contractions.

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NeuroMuscular Research Center, Boston University, Massachusetts 02215.


The time course of muscle fiber conduction velocity and surface myoelectric signal spectral (mean and median frequency of the power spectrum) and amplitude (average rectified and root-mean-square value) parameters was studied in 20 experiments on the tibialis anterior muscle of 10 healthy human subjects during sustained isometric voluntary or electrically elicited contractions. Voluntary contractions at 20% maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) and at 80% MVC with duration of 20 s were performed at the beginning of each experiment. Tetanic electrical stimulation was then applied to the main muscle motor point for 20 s with surface electrodes at five stimulation frequencies (20, 25, 30, 35, and 40 Hz). All subjects showed myoelectric manifestations of muscle fatigue consisting of negative trends of spectral variables and conduction velocity and positive trends of amplitude variables. The main findings of this work are 1) myoelectric signal variables obtained from electrically elicited contractions show fluctuations smaller than those observed in voluntary contractions, 2) spectral variables are more sensitive to fatigue than conduction velocity and the average rectified value is more sensitive to fatigue than the root-mean-square value, 3) conduction velocity is not the only physiological factor affecting spectral variables, and 4) contractions elicited at supramaximal stimulation and frequencies greater than 30 Hz demonstrate myoelectric manifestations of muscle fatigue greater than those observed at 80% MVC sustained for the same time.

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