This study compared voluntary (VOL) and electrically evoked isometric contractions by muscle stimulation (EMS) for changes in biceps brachii muscle oxygenation (tissue oxygenation index, ∆TOI) and total haemoglobin concentration (∆tHb = oxygenated haemoglobin + deoxygenated haemoglobin) determined by near-infrared spectroscopy. Twelve men performed EMS with one arm followed 24 h later by VOL with the contralateral arm, consisting of 30 repeated (1-s contraction, 1-s relaxation) isometric contractions at 30% of maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) for the first 60 s, and maximal intensity contractions thereafter (MVC for VOL and maximal tolerable current at 30 Hz for EMS) until MVC decreased ~30% of pre-exercise MVC. During the 30 contractions at 30% MVC, ∆TOI decrease was significantly (P < 0.05) greater and ∆tHb was significantly (P < 0.05) lower for EMS than VOL, suggesting that the metabolic demand for oxygen in EMS is greater than VOL at the same torque level. However, during maximal intensity contractions, although EMS torque (~40% of VOL) was significantly (P < 0.05) lower than VOL, ∆TOI was similar and ∆tHb was significantly (P < 0.05) lower for EMS than VOL towards the end, without significant differences between the two sessions in the recovery period. It is concluded that the oxygen demand of the activated biceps brachii muscle in EMS is comparable to VOL at maximal intensity.
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The authors would like to thank Prof. Marco Ferrari for his constructive feedback in the revision of the manuscript.
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