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Change in contractile properties of human muscle in relationship to the loss of power and slowing of relaxation seen with fatigue

Jones, David A. and Ruiter, Cornelius J. de and Haan, Arnold de (2006) Change in contractile properties of human muscle in relationship to the loss of power and slowing of relaxation seen with fatigue. Journal of Physiology, 576 (3). pp. 913-922. ISSN 0022-3751

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Abstract

Slow relaxation from an isometric contraction is characteristic of acutely fatigued muscle and is associated with a decrease in the maximum velocity of unloaded shortening (Vmax) and both these phenomena might be due to a decreased rate of cross bridge detachment. We have compared the change in relaxation rate with that of various parameters of the force/velocity relationship over the course of an ischaemic series of fatiguing contractions and subsequent recovery using the human adductor pollicis muscle working in vivo at approximately 37oC in nine healthy young subjects. Maximal isometric force (Fo) decreased from 91.0 ± 1.9 to 58.3 ± 3.5N (mean ± SEM). Maximum power decreased from 53.6 ± 4.0 to 17.7 ± 1.2 (arbitrary units) while relaxation rate declined from -10.3 ± 0.38 to -2.56 ± 0.29 s-1. Vmax showed a smaller relative change from 673 ± 20 to 560 ± 46 deg.s-1 and with a time course that differed markedly from that of slowing of relaxation, showing very little change until late in the series of contractions. Curvature of the force/velocity relationship increased (a/Fo decreasing from 0.22 ± 0.02 to 0.11 ± 0.02) with fatigue and with a time course that was similar to that of the loss of power and the slowing of relaxation. It is concluded that for human muscle working at a normal physiological temperature the change in curvature of the force/velocity relationship with fatigue is a major cause of loss of power and may share a common underlying mechanism with the slowing of relaxation from an isometric contraction.

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