The surface mechanomyogram as a tool to describe the influence of fatigue on biceps brachii motor unit activation strategy. Historical basis and novel evidence

Orizio, Claudio; Gobbo, Massimiliano; Diemont, Bertrand; Esposito, Fabio; Veicsteinas, Arsenio
October 2003
European Journal of Applied Physiology;Oct2003, Vol. 90 Issue 3/4, p326
Academic Journal
The surface mechanomyogram (MMG) (detectable at the muscle surface as MMG by accelerometers, piezoelectric contact sensors or other transducers) is the summation of the activity of single motor units (MUs). Each MU contribution is related to the pressure waves generated by the active muscle fibres. The first part of this article will review briefly the results obtained by our group studying the possible role of motor unit recruitment and firing rate in determining the characteristics of the MMG during stimulated and voluntary contractions. The second part of this article will study the MMG and EMG during a short isometric force ramp from 0 to 90% of the maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) in fresh and fatigued biceps brachii. The aim is to verify whether changes in motor unit activation strategy in voluntarily fatigued muscle could be specifically reflected in the time and frequency domain parameters of the MMG. MMG-RMS vs. %MVC: at fatigue the MMG-RMS did not present the well known increment, when effort level increases, followed by a clear decrement at near-maximal contraction levels. MMG-MF vs. %MVC: compared to fresh muscle the fatigued biceps brachii showed an MF trend significantly shifted towards lower values and the steeper MF increment, from 65 to 85% MVC, was not present. The alteration in the MMG and EMG parameters vs. %MVC relationships at fatigue seems to be related to the impossibility of recruiting fast, but more fatigable MUs, and to the lowering of the global MUs firing during the short isometric force ramp investigated.


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