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Force enhancement during and following muscle stretch of maximal voluntarily activated human quadriceps femoris

Abstract

Force enhancement during and following muscle stretch has been observed for electrically and voluntarily activated human muscle. However, especially for voluntary contractions, the latter observation has only been made for adductor pollicis and the ankle joint muscles, but not for large muscles like quadriceps femoris. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate the effects of active muscle stretch on force production for maximal voluntary contractions of in vivo human quadriceps femoris (n = 15). Peak torques during and torques at the end of stretch, torques following stretch, and passive torques following muscle deactivation were compared to the isometric torques at corresponding muscle length. In addition, muscle activation of rectus femoris, vastus medialis and vastus lateralis was obtained using surface EMG. Stretches with different amplitudes (15, 25 and 35° at a velocity of 60° s−1) were performed on the plateau region and the descending limb of the force–length relation in a random order. Data analysis showed four main results: (1) peak torques did not occur at the end of the stretch, but torques at the end of the stretch exceeded the corresponding isometric torque; (2) there was no significant force enhancement following muscle stretch, but a small significant passive force enhancement persisted for all stretch conditions; (3) forces during and following stretch were independent of stretch amplitude; (4) muscle activation during and following muscle stretch was significantly reduced. In conclusion, although our results showed passive force enhancement, we could not provide direct evidence that there is active force enhancement in voluntarily activated human quadriceps femoris.

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Correspondence to Daniel Hahn.

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Hahn, D., Seiberl, W. & Schwirtz, A. Force enhancement during and following muscle stretch of maximal voluntarily activated human quadriceps femoris. Eur J Appl Physiol 100, 701–709 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-007-0462-3

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Keywords

  • Force enhancement
  • Eccentric muscle action
  • History of muscle action
  • Quadriceps femoris
  • Maximal voluntary activation