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A comparison of the effects of agonist and antagonist muscle fatigue on performance of rapid movements

Abstract

The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of agonist and antagonist muscle fatigue on the performance of rapid, self-terminating movements. Six subjects performed rapid, consecutive elbow flexion and extension movements between two targets prior to and after fatiguing either the elbow flexor or elbow extensor muscles. The experiments demonstrated consistent results. Agonist muscle fatigue was associated with a decrease in peak velocity and peak deceleration, while a decrease in peak acceleration was particularly prominent. Antagonist muscle fatigue, however, was associated with a decrease in peak deceleration, while a decrease in both the peak velocity and peak acceleration was modest and, in some tests, non-significant. The relative acceleration time (i.e. acceleration time as a proportion of the total movement time) increased when agonists were fatigued, but decreased when antagonists were fatigued. Taken together, these results emphasize the mechanical roles of the agonist and antagonist muscles; namely, the fatigue of each muscle group particularly affected the movement phase in which that group accelerated a limb, while changes of the movement kinematics pattern provided more time for action of the fatigued muscles. In addition, the results presented suggest that agonist muscle fatigue affects movement velocity more than antagonist muscle fatigue, even in movements that demonstrate prominently both mechanical and myoelectric activity of the antagonist muscles, such as rapid, self-terminating movements.

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Accepted: 11 February 1997

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Jarić, S., Radovanović, S., Milanović, S. et al. A comparison of the effects of agonist and antagonist muscle fatigue on performance of rapid movements. Eur J Appl Physiol 76, 41–47 (1997). https://doi.org/10.1007/s004210050210

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  • Key words Fatigue
  • Agonist and antagonist muscles
  • Rapid movements
  • Performance