Electromechanical delay in human skeletal muscle under concentric and eccentric contractions

  • P. R. Cavanagh
  • P. V. Komi


In contraction of skeletal muscle a delay exists between the onset of electrical activity and measurable tension. This delay in electromechanical coupling has been stated to be between 30 and 100 ms. Thus, in rapid movements it may be possible for electromyographic (EMG) activity to have terminated before force can be detected. This study was designed to determine the dependence of the EMG-tension delay upon selected initial conditions at the time of muscle activation. The rigth forearms of 14 subjects were passively oscillated by a motor-driven dynamometer through flexion-extension cycles of 135 deg at an angular velocity of ≈0.5 rad/s. Upon presentation of a visual stimulus the subjects maximally contracted the relaxed elbow flexors during flexion, extension, and under isometric conditions. The muscle length at the time of the stimulus was the same in all three conditions. An on-line computer monitoring surface EMG (Biceps and Brachioradialis) and force calculated the electromechanical delay. The mean value for the delay under eccentric condition, 49.5 ms, was significantly different (p<0.05) from the delays during isometric (53.9 ms) and concentric activity (55.5 ms). It is suggested that the time required to stretch the series elastic component (SEC) represents the major portion of the measured delay and that during eccentric muscle activity the SEC is in a more favorable condition for rapid force development.

Key words

Muscle activation Muscle mechanics Muscle elasticity 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. R. Cavanagh
    • 1
  • P. V. Komi
    • 2
  1. 1.Biomechanics LaboratoryPenn State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  2. 2.Kinesiology Laboratory, Department of Biology of Physical ActivityUniversity of JyvÄskylÄJyvÄskylÄ 10Finland

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