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Effects of fatigue and recovery on electromyographic and isometric force- and relaxation-time characteristics of human skeletal muscle

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Effects of fatigue produced by a maintained 60% isometric loading on electromyographic and isometric force-time and relaxation-time characteristics of human skeletal muscle were studied in 21 males accustomed to strength training. Fatigue loading resulted in a slight but not significant change in the maximal integrated EMG of a maximal isometric contraction, and a large decrease (20.4±6.3%, p<0.001) in maximal force. Fatigue loading increased (p<0.05−0.01) neural activation of the muscles during rapidly produced submaximal isometric forces, but had a considerable adverse effect (p<0.001) on the corresponding force-time characteristics. Correlations between the relative changes after fatigue in the IEMG/force ratio at the maximal force level, and in the IEMG/force ratios of the early phases of the force-time curve were not significant, but gradually became significant (p<0.01) at higher force levels. The average IEMG of the muscles in the relaxation phase of contraction remained unaltered by fatigue, while a marked deleterious change in the relaxation-time variables (p<0.001) occurred concomitantly. During the subsequent 3 min rest period considerable (12.1±7.0%, p<0.001) recovery was noted in the maximal force, with smaller (insignificant or p<0.05−0.01) changes in the force-time and relaxation-time variables, while the average IEMG of force production decreased (p<0.01−0.001). The present findings suggest that fatigue leading to a worsening in force-time, in maximal force and in the relaxation-time parts of a maximal isometric contraction might take place primarily in the contractile processes.

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Correspondence to Keijo HÄkkinen.

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HÄkkinen, K., Komi, P.V. Effects of fatigue and recovery on electromyographic and isometric force- and relaxation-time characteristics of human skeletal muscle. Europ. J. Appl. Physiol. 55, 588–596 (1986).

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Key words

  • Fatigue
  • Force production
  • Relaxation
  • EMG