Sports Medicine

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 116–126 | Cite as

Role of Excitation-Contraction Coupling in Muscle Fatigue

  • D. G. Allen
  • H. Westerblad
  • J. A. Lee
  • J. Lännergren
Issues in Fatigue in Sport and Exercise


The force produced by muscles declines during prolonged activity and this decline arises largely from processes within the muscle. At a cellular level the reduced force could be caused by: (a) reduced intracellular calcium release during activity; (b) reduced sensitivity of the myofilaments to calcium; or (c) reduced maximal force development. Experiments involving intracellular calcium measurements in isolated single fibres show that all 3 of the above contribute to the decline of force during fatigue. Metabolic changes associated with fatigue are probably involved in each of the 3 factors. Thus the accumulation of phosphate and protons which occur during fatigue cause a reduction in calcium sensitivity and a decline in maximal force. The cause of the reduced intracellular calcium during contractions in fatigue is less clear. During prolonged tetani the conduction of the action potential in the T-tubules appears to fail leading to reduced intracellular calcium in the central part of the muscle fibre. However, during repeated tetani there is a uniform decline of intracellular calcium across the fibre and this remains one of the least understood processes which contribute to fatigue.


Caffeine Sarcoplasmic Reticulum Muscle Fatigue Contractile Protein Tetanic Stimulation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Adis International Limited 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. G. Allen
    • 1
  • H. Westerblad
    • 1
  • J. A. Lee
    • 2
  • J. Lännergren
    • 3
  1. 1.Muscle Cell Function Laboratory, Department of PhysiologyUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Division of Pathology, University of Newcastle upon TyneRoyal Victoria InfirmaryNewcastle upon TyneEngland
  3. 3.Department of PhysiologyKarolinska InstitutetStockholmSweden

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