Article

European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 9-15

First online:

A central nervous component in local muscular fatigue

  • E. AsmussenAffiliated withThe Laboratory for the Theory of Gymnastics, August Krogh Institute, University of Copenhagen
  • , B. MazinAffiliated withThe Laboratory for the Theory of Gymnastics, August Krogh Institute, University of Copenhagen

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Summary

It has been shown previously (this journal) that any activity, physical or mental, performed as “diverting activity” in the pauses between bouts of exhaustive muscular work has a positive effect on the recuperation after fatigue. It was concluded that this effect was primarily of central nervous origin (Setchenov, 1903) and not a circulatory effect (Weber, 1914). In the present experiments it is shown that the amount of work that can be performed before exhaustion is larger when the subjects work with their eyes open than when they work with closed eyes. Further, when complete exhaustion has been reached with closed eyes, opening of the eyes results in an immediate return of a working capacity amounting to 1.5–30% of that already performed. It is demonstrated, that patellar reflexes are brisker when the eyes are open than when they are closed. The same is the case during the diverse forms of “diverting activity” used in this and the previous article. The brisker myotatic reflexes are taken to mean an enhanced central nervous arousal, and the recuperative effect of “diverting activity” is consequently explained as being due to an increased facilitation of the neuro-motor system, which in fatigue is inhibited centrally through afferents from receptors in the fatigued muscles.

Key words

Muscle fatigue Central inhibition in fatigue Central nervous arousal and fatigue Peripheral and central factors in fatigue