Fatigue and recovery contractile properties of young and elderly men

Summary

The 24 h recovery pattern of contractile properties of the triceps surae muscle, following a period of muscle fatigue, was compared in physically active young (25 years,n = 10) and elderly (66 years,n = 7) men. The fatigue test protocol consisted of 10 min of intermittent submaximal 20 Hz tetani. The maximal twitch (p t) and tetanic force at 3 frequencies (10, 20 and 50 Hz) were determined at baseline and at 15 min, 1, 4 and 24 h after fatiguing the muscle. Maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) and vertical jump (MVJ) were also assessed. The loss of force during the fatigue test was not significantly different between the young (18±13%) and elderly (22±15%). Both groups showed similar and significant reductions of Pt (15%), tetanic force (10 to 35%) and rate of force development (dp/dt) (20%) 15 min and 1 h into recovery. The loss of force was greater at the lower stimulation frequencies of 10 and 20 Hz. Time-to-peak tension was unchanged from baseline during recovery in either group. The average rate of relaxation of twitch force (−dPt/dt) was decreased (p<0.05) and half-relaxation time significantly increased at 15 min and 1 h in the elderly but not the young. The findings indicate that after fatiguing contractions, elderly muscle demonstrates a slower return to resting levels of the rate and time course of twitch relaxation compared to the young.

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Correspondence to D. A. Cunningham.

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Klein, C., Cunningham, D.A., Paterson, D.H. et al. Fatigue and recovery contractile properties of young and elderly men. Europ. J. Appl. Physiol. 57, 684–690 (1988). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01075989

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Key words

  • Muscle fatigue
  • Aging
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Voluntary contraction