European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 114, Issue 8, pp 1619–1633 | Cite as

Locomotor and diaphragm muscle fatigue in endurance athletes performing time-trials of different durations

  • Thomas U. Wüthrich
  • Elisabeth C. Eberle
  • Christina M. Spengler
Original Article

Abstract

Purpose

Fatigue in leg muscles might differ between running and cycling due to inherent differences in muscle activation patterns. Moreover, postural demand placed upon the diaphragm during running could augment the development of diaphragm fatigue.

Methods

We investigated quadriceps and diaphragm fatigue in 11 runners and 11 cyclists (age: 29 ± 5 years; \(\dot{V}\)O2,peak: 66.9 ± 5.5 ml min−1 kg−1) by assessing quadriceps twitch force (Qtw) and transdiaphragmatic twitch pressure (Pdi,tw) before and after 15- and 30-min time-trials (15TT, 30TT). Inspiratory muscle fatigue was also obtained after volitional normocapnic hyperpnoea (NH) where postural demand is negligible. We hypothesized that running and cycling would induce different patterns of fatigue and that runners would develop less respiratory muscle fatigue when performing NH.

Results

The reduction in Qtw was greater in cyclists (32 ± 6 %) compared to runners (13 ± 8 %, p < 0.01), but not different for 15TTs (23 ± 13 %) and 30TTs (21 ± 11 %, p = 0.34). Overall Pdi,tw was more reduced after 15TTs (24 ± 8 %) than after 30TTs (20 ± 9 %, p = 0.04) while being similar for runners and cyclists (p = 0.78). Meanwhile, breathing duration in NH and the magnitude of inspiratory muscle fatigue were also not different (both p > 0.05).

Conclusion

Different levels of leg muscle fatigue in runners and cyclists could in part be related to the specific muscle activation patterns including concentric contractions in both modalities but eccentric contractions in runners only. Diaphragm fatigue likely resulted from the large ventilatory load which is characteristic for both exercise modalities and which was higher in 15TTs than in 30TTs (+27 %, p < 0.01) while postural demand appears to be of less importance.

Keywords

Self-paced exercise Fatigue Locomotor muscles Respiratory muscles Hyperpnoea 

Abbreviations

CV

Coefficient of variation

MVV

Maximal voluntary ventilation

M-wave

Compound muscle action potential

Pdi

Transdiaphragmatic pressure

Pdi,tw

Transdiaphragmatic twitch pressure

Pes

Esophageal pressure

Pes,tw

Esophageal twitch pressure

Pga

Gastric pressure

Pga,tw

Gastric twitch pressure

Pm

Mouth pressure

Pm,tw

Mouth twitch pressure

PTPdi,in

Inspiratory transdiaphragmatic pressure–time product

PTPga,in

Inspiratory transdiaphragmatic pressure–time product

PTPes,in

Inspiratory esophageal pressure–time product

PTPes,ex

Expiratory esophageal pressure–time product

PTPga,ex

Expiratory gastric pressure–time product

Qtw

Quadriceps twitch force

\(\dot{V}\)O2

Oxygen consumption

\(\dot{V}\)O2,peak

Oxygen consumption at peak workload

WOB

Work of breathing

Pdi,tw

Reduction in transdiaphragmatic twitch pressure

Qtw

Reduction in quadriceps twitch force

15TT

15 min time-trial

30TT

30 min time-trial

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank all the subjects for their time and maximal efforts put into this study and Dr. Ruth Briggs for English editing. This research is financially supported by the Swiss Office of Sports (Grant No. 11-11).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that no conflict of interest exists.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas U. Wüthrich
    • 1
  • Elisabeth C. Eberle
    • 1
  • Christina M. Spengler
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Exercise Physiology LabInstitute of Human Movement Sciences and Sport, ETH ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Zurich Center for Integrative Human Physiology (ZIHP), University of ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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