, Volume 81, Issue 1-2, pp 2-10

The influences of muscle fibre proportions and areas upon EMG during maximal dynamic knee extensions

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This study is an investigation of the relationship between muscle morphology and surface electromyographic (EMG) parameters [mean frequency of the power spectrum (MNF), signal amplitude (root mean square, RMS) and the signal amplitude ratio (SAR; i.e. the ratio between the RMS level during the passive part of the contraction cycle and the RMS level during the active part of the contraction cycle)] during 100 maximal dynamic knee extensions at 90° · s−1. Each contraction cycle comprised of 1 s of active knee extension and 1 s of passive knee flexion. The surface EMG was recorded from the vastus lateralis muscle. Twenty clinically healthy subjects participated in the study, and muscle biopsy samples of the vastus lateralis were obtained from 19 of those subjects. The relationships between muscle morphology and EMG were investigated at three stages of the test: initially, during the fatigue phase (initial 40 contractions), and at the endurance level (the final 50 contractions). Major findings on correlations are that SAR and MNF tended to correlate positively with the proportion of type 1 fibres, and RMS correlated positively with the proportion of type 2 muscle fibres. The muscle fibre areas showed little correlation with the EMG variables under investigation. The results of the present study showed that the three EMG variables of a dynamic endurance test that were investigated (RMS, MNF and SAR) were clearly correlated with the proportions of the different fibre types, but only to a small extent with fibre areas. These findings contradict some of the theoretical models of the EMG, especially for parameters in the frequency domain.

Accepted: 17 June 1999