European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 97, Issue 6, pp 737–744 | Cite as

Effects of neuromuscular electrical stimulation parameters on specific tension

  • Ashraf S. Gorgey
  • Edward Mahoney
  • Tracee Kendall
  • Gary A. Dudley
Original Article


This study examined the effects of altering surface neuromuscular electrical stimulation (SNMES) parameters on the specific tension of the quadriceps femoris muscle. Seven able-bodied subjects had magnetic resonance images taken of both thighs prior to and immediately after four SNMES protocols to determine the activated muscle cross-sectional area (CSA). The four protocols were: (1) research (RES, 100 Hz, 450 μs, and amplitude set to evoke 75% of maximal voluntary isometric torque, MVIT); (2) pulse duration (PD, 100 Hz, 150 μs, same current as in RES); (3) frequency (FREQ, 25 Hz, 450 μs, and same current as in RES); (4) amplitude (AMP, 100 Hz, 450 μs, and current set to evoke the average of the initial torques of PD and FREQ, 45 ± 9% of MVIT). Reducing the amplitude of the current from 75 to 45% of MVIT did not alter specific tension, 25 ± 8 N/cm2, suggesting that the amplitude probably affects torque and the area of activated muscle proportionally. Shortening the pulse duration from 450 to 150 μs caused specific tension to drop from 25 ± 6 to 20 ± 6 N/cm2 (P < 0.05), indicating that pulse duration increased torque and the activated CSA disproportionally. Alternatively, reducing the frequency from 100 to 25 Hz decreased specific tension from 25 ± 6 to 17 ± 4 N/cm2 (P < 0.05), suggesting that the frequency increased torque without affecting the activated CSA. Clinicians who administer SNMES should be aware of the magnitude of adaptations to a given amplitude, pulse duration, and frequency.


Electrical stimulation Amplitude Frequency Pulse duration Specific tension 



The authors would like to thank all the subjects participated in this study. We also appreciate Chris Black and Carolyn Sharp for their technical expertise and Drs. Kevin McCully and Jill Slade for their helpful comments during the preparation of the manuscript. This study was supported by NIH grants to G.A.D. (Grants No.: HD39679 and HD39676S2).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ashraf S. Gorgey
    • 1
    • 2
  • Edward Mahoney
    • 2
  • Tracee Kendall
    • 2
  • Gary A. Dudley
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Physical Medicine and RehabilitationUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Department of KinesiologyThe University of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  3. 3.Shepherd CenterCrawford Research InstituteNW AtlantaUSA

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