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Journal of biomechanics  2008;41(11):2492-2497.
Ultrasonography was used to measure pennation angle and electromyography (EMG) to record muscle activity of the human tibialis anterior (TA), lateral gastrocnemius (LG), medial gastrocnemius (MG), and soleus (SOL) muscles during graded isometric ankle plantar and dorsiflexion contractions done on a Biodex dynamometer. Data from eight male and eight female subjects were collected in increments of approximately 25% of maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) ranging from rest to MVC. A significant positive linear relationship (p < 0.05) between normalized EMG and pennation angle for all muscles was observed when subject specific pennation angles at rest and MVC were included in the analysis. These were included to account for gender differences and inter-subject variability in pennation angle. The coefficient of determination, R2, ranged between 0.76 for the TA to 0.87 for the SOL. The EMG-pennation angle relationships have ramifications for use in EMG-driven models of muscle force. The regression equations can be used to characterize fiber pennation angle more accurately and to determine how it changes with contraction intensity, thus providing improved estimates of muscle force when using musculoskeletal models.
PMCID: PMC2548308  PMID: 18579147
ultrasound; regression; optimal pennation angle; sex differences
2.  Hot ambient conditions shift the Force / EMG relationship 
SpringerPlus  2013;2:317.
This manuscript reports the data from two interventions on human subjects aiming to determine the effect of elevated core (HOT-core, study 1, 14 participants) and skin (HOT-skin, study 2, 11 participants) temperature on the force / EMG relationship.
In both studies, participant underwent an experimental trial and a control (CON) trial, in which maximal voluntary contractions (MVC) of the plantar flexors, surface EMG recordings of both the soleus and gastrocnemius medialis (GM), and electrical stimulation of the tibial nerve were performed to determine the percentage of voluntary activation (VA). During the HOT-core trial, rectal temperature was passively increased and then clamped at 39°C by adjusting the room temperature in the range of 46-50°C. During the HOT-skin trial, tests were performed in a temperate environment (~20°C) and skin temperature was locally affected by applying a cool or a hot pack during 1 min.
HOT-core resulted in a decrease in MVC torque (−19%) and VA (−5%) (p < 0.05). HOT-skin did not induce any changes in MVC torque (−1%) or VA (+0%). However, the EMG activity (RMS) was decreased both in HOT-core (soleus −40%, GM −33%) and HOT-skin (soleus −10%, GM −13%), compared with CON (p < 0.05).
The effect of skin temperature on EMG recordings may be attributed to both methodological and physiological factors. Hot ambient conditions shift the Torque / EMG relationship to the left, with the decrement in torque induced with passive hyperthermia lower than the decrement in EMG.
PMCID: PMC3715679  PMID: 23888283
Temperature; Hyperthermia; Muscle; Exercise; Heat
3.  Neuromuscular function and fatigue resistance of the plantar flexors following short-term cycling endurance training 
Previously published studies on the effect of short-term endurance training on neuromuscular function of the plantar flexors have shown that the H-reflex elicited at rest and during weak voluntary contractions was increased following the training regime. However, these studies did not test H-reflex modulation during isometric maximum voluntary contraction (iMVC) and did not incorporate a control group in their study design to compare the results of the endurance training group to individuals without the endurance training stimulus. Therefore, this randomized controlled study was directed to investigate the neuromuscular function of the plantar flexors at rest and during iMVC before and after 8 weeks of cycling endurance training. Twenty-two young adults were randomly assigned to an intervention group and a control group. During neuromuscular testing, rate of torque development, isometric maximum voluntary torque and muscle activation were measured. Triceps surae muscle activation and tibialis anterior muscle co-activation were assessed by normalized root mean square of the EMG signal during the initial phase of contraction (0–100, 100–200 ms) and iMVC of the plantar flexors. Furthermore, evoked spinal reflex responses of the soleus muscle (H-reflex evoked at rest and during iMVC, V-wave), peak twitch torques induced by electrical stimulation of the posterior tibial nerve at rest and fatigue resistance were evaluated. The results indicate that cycling endurance training did not lead to a significant change in any variable of interest. Data of the present study conflict with the outcome of previously published studies that have found an increase in H-reflex excitability after endurance training. However, these studies had not included a control group in their study design as was the case here. It is concluded that short-term cycling endurance training does not necessarily enhance H-reflex responses and fatigue resistance.
PMCID: PMC4429572  PMID: 26029114
explosive voluntary strength; maximal voluntary strength; H-reflex; V-wave; M-wave
4.  Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation Versus Volitional Isometric Strength Training in Children With Spastic Diplegic Cerebral Palsy: A Preliminary Study 
To date, no reports have investigated neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) to increase muscle force production of children with cerebral palsy (CP) using high-force contractions and low repetitions.
The aims of this study were to determine if isometric NMES or volitional training in children with CP could increase muscle strength and walking speed and to examine the mechanisms that may contribute to increased force production.
Eleven children with spastic diplegia were assigned to an NMES training group or to a volitional training group. Participants in the NMES group had electrodes implanted percutaneously to activate the quadriceps femoris and triceps surae muscles. The volitional group trained with maximal effort contractions. Both groups performed a 12-week isometric strength-training program. Maximum voluntary isometric contract ion (MVIC) force, voluntary muscle activation, quadriceps and triceps surae cross-sectional area (CSA), and walking speed were measured pre- and post-strength training.
The NMES-trained group had greater increases in normalized force production for both die quadriceps femoris and triceps surae. Similarly only the NMES group showed an increase in walking speed after training. Changes in voluntary muscle activation explained approximately 67% and 37% of the changes seen in the MVIC of the NMES and volitional groups, respectively. Quadriceps femoris maximum CSA increased significantly for the NMES group only.
This study was the first to quantitatively show strength gains with the use of NMES in children with CP. These results support the need for future experimental studies that will examine the clinical effectiveness of NMES strength training.
PMCID: PMC3069852  PMID: 17369515
Cerebral palsy; Strength training; Electrical stimulation; Muscle activation; Cross-sectional area; Hypertrophy
Rehabilitation programs for patients with patellofemoral dysfunction aim to recruit the vastus medialis obliquus muscle (VMO) in an attempt to reduce pain and to improve patellar tracking.
The aim of the present study was to use surface EMG to assess the effectiveness of two isometric submaximal contractions (10% and 60% of maximal voluntary contraction, MVC) in promoting preferential activation of VMO over vastus medialis longus (VML) and vastus lateralis (VL) in open and closed kinetic chain isometric exercises with the knee joint fixed at 30, 60 and 90 degrees of flexion.
Methods and Measures:
Surface electromyography (EMG) signals were recorded with linear adhesive arrays of four electrodes from fourteen healthy young men (age 23.5±3.2, mean±SD) during isometric knee extension contractions at 10% and 60% of the maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) for 1 min and 20 s respectively at 30, 60 and 90 degrees of knee flexion. Initial values and rate of change (slope) of mean frequency (MNF), average rectified value (ARV) and conduction velocity (CV) of the EMG signal were calculated.
Comparisons between the force levels produced at 10% and 60% MVC revealed that the initial values of ARV and CV for the VL, VML and VMO muscle were greater at 60% MVC compared to 10% MVC (3‐way ANOVA; F=536; p<0.001, F=49: p<0.01 for ARV and CV respectively). Comparisons between the different muscles demonstrated lower initial values of CV for VMO compared to VL and VLM at 10% and 60% of MVC (F=15; p<0.05). In addition, initial estimates of ARV were higher for VMO compared to VML at both force levels (F=66; p<0.05). Comparisons between open and closed kinetic chain exercises revealed higher initial estimates of ARV for open kinetic chain knee extension at both force levels (F=62; p<0.01). In addition, the absolute value of MNF slope appeared to increase at higher angles for closed kinetic chain at 60% MVC while it was minimum at 60° degrees for open kinetic chain. No significant differences were observed in the rate of change of CV and MNF among the three muscles.
Based on the results of this study, both open and closed kinetic chain exercise similarly activate the three portions of the quadriceps muscle, suggesting that selective training of the vastii muscle is not achievable in these conditions.
PMCID: PMC3537462  PMID: 23316425
Electromyography; patellofemoral joint; quadriceps; strength training
6.  Time Course of Central and Peripheral Alterations after Isometric Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation-Induced Muscle Damage 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e107298.
Isometric contractions induced by neuromuscular electrostimulation (NMES) have been shown to result in a prolonged force decrease but the time course of the potential central and peripheral factors have never been investigated. This study examined the specific time course of central and peripheral factors after isometric NMES-induced muscle damage. Twenty-five young healthy men were subjected to an NMES exercise consisting of 40 contractions for both legs. Changes in maximal voluntary contraction force of the knee extensors (MVC), peak evoked force during double stimulations at 10 Hz (Db10) and 100 Hz (Db100), its ratio (10∶100), voluntary activation, muscle soreness and plasma creatine kinase activity were assessed before, immediately after and throughout four days after NMES session. Changes in knee extensors volume and T2 relaxation time were also assessed at two (D2) and four (D4) days post-exercise. MVC decreased by 29% immediately after NMES session and was still 19% lower than the baseline value at D4. The decrease in Db10 was higher than in Db100 immediately and one day post-exercise resulting in a decrease (−12%) in the 10∶100 ratio. On the contrary, voluntary activation significantly decreased at D2 (−5%) and was still depressed at D4 (−5%). Muscle soreness and plasma creatine kinase activity increased after NMES and peaked at D2 and D4, respectively. T2 was also increased at D2 (6%) and D4 (9%). Additionally, changes in MVC and peripheral factors (e.g., Db100) were correlated on the full recovery period, while a significant correlation was found between changes in MVC and VA only from D2 to D4. The decrease in MVC recorded immediately after the NMES session was mainly due to peripheral changes while both central and peripheral contributions were involved in the prolonged force reduction. Interestingly, the chronological events differ from what has been reported so far for voluntary exercise-induced muscle damage.
PMCID: PMC4162582  PMID: 25215511
7.  The neurophysiology of central and peripheral fatigue during sub-maximal lower limb isometric contractions 
Fatigue has been defined as an exercise-induced decline in force generation capacity because of changes at both the peripheral and central levels. Movement is preceded and accompanied by brain activities related to the preparation and execution of movement (movement related cortical potentials, MRCP), which have been correlated with the perception of effort (RPE). We combined force measurements, surface electromyography (sEMG), peripheral electrical stimulation (maximal twitch, MT) and MRCP analysis to further our understanding of the neural correlates of peripheral and central changes during a fatiguing task involving the lower limbs. Eighteen healthy volunteers performed 4 blocks of isometric knee extensions at 40% of the maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) for a total of 240 2-s contractions. At the baseline and after each block, we measured RPE, MT and MVC. We simultaneously recorded the force of the knee extensor muscles, root mean square (RMS) of the sEMG of the vastus lateralis muscle, and electroencephalography (EEG) from 64 channels. The MRCPs were extracted from the EEG recordings and averaged in the early (Block 1–2) and late (Block 3–4) blocks. Two cohorts were obtained by cluster analysis based on the RPE (i.e., perception of effort) and MT (i.e., peripheral fatigue). We observed a significant decline in both the MVC (−13%) and RMS (−25%) of the sEMG signal over the course of the task; thus, muscle fatigue had occurred in all of the participants regardless of the cohort. The MRCP amplitude was larger in the fatigued than the non-fatigued MT cohort in the supplementary and premotor areas, whereas the MRCP amplitude was larger in the fatigued than the non-fatigued RPE cohort in the aforementioned areas, and also in the primary motor and prefrontal cortices (PFC). The increase in the positive activity of the PFC, along with the perception of effort, represents a novel result, suggesting that it is modulated more by the perception of effort than peripheral fatigue.
PMCID: PMC3625743  PMID: 23596408
movement-related cortical potentials (MRCPs); rating of perceived efforts (RPE); isometric contraction; maximal voluntary contractions (MVC); maximal twitch (MT)
8.  Influence of simulated microgravity on mechanical properties in the human triceps surae muscle in vivo. I: Effect of 120 days of bed-rest without physical training on human muscle musculo-tendinous stiffness and contractile properties in young women 
European Journal of Applied Physiology  2014;114(5):1025-1036.
The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of a 120-day 5° head-down tilt (HDT) bed-rest on the mechanical properties of the human triceps surae muscle in healthy young women subjects.
Measurements included examination of the properties of maximal voluntary contractions (MVC), twitch contractions (Pt) and tetanic contractions (Po). The difference between Po and MVC expressed as a percentage of Po and referred to as force deficiency (Pd), was calculated. Electromyographic (EMG) activity in the soleus muscle, electromechanical delay (EMD) and total reaction time (TRT) were also calculated. EMD was the time interval between the change in EMG and the onset of muscle tension. Premotor time (PMT) was taken to be the time interval from the delivery of the signal to change in EMG.
After HDT Pt, MVC and Po had decreased by 11.5, 36.1, 24.4 %, respectively, Pd had increased by 38.8 %. Time-to-peak tension had increased by 13.6 %, but half-relaxation time had decreased by 19.2 %. The rate of rise in isometric voluntary tension development had reduced, but no changes were observed in the electrically evoked contraction. EMD had increased by 27.4 %; PMT and TRT decreased by 21.4, and 13.7 %, respectively.
The experimental findings indicated that neural as well as muscle adaptation occurred in response to HDT. EMD is a simple and quick method for evaluation of muscle stiffness changes and can serve as an indicator of the functional condition of the neuromuscular system.
PMCID: PMC3983899  PMID: 24509917
Bed-rest; Triceps surae muscle; Electromechanical delay; Musculo-tendinous stiffness; Contractile properties
9.  Neuromuscular determinants of maximum walking speed in well-functioning older adults 
Experimental gerontology  2013;48(3):358-363.
Maximum walking speed may offer an advantage over usual walking speed for clinical assessment of age-related declines in mobility function that are due to neuromuscular impairment. The objective of this study was to determine the extent to which maximum walking speed is affected by neuromuscular function of the lower extremities in older adults. We recruited two groups of healthy, well functioning older adults who differed primarily on maximum walking speed. We hypothesized that individuals with slower maximum walking speed would exhibit reduced lower extremity muscle size and impaired plantarflexion force production and neuromuscular activation during a rapid contraction of the triceps surae muscle group (soleus (SO) and gastrocnemius (MG)).
All participants were required to have usual 10-meter walking speed >1.0 m/s. If the difference between usual and maximum 10m walking speed was < 0.6 m/s, the individual was assigned to the “Slower” group (n=8). If the difference between usual and maximum 10-meter walking speed was > 0.6 m/s, the individual was assigned to the “Faster” group (n=12). Peak rate of force development (RFD) and rate of neuromuscular activation (rate of EMG rise) of the triceps surae muscle group were assessed during a rapid plantarflexion movement. Muscle cross sectional area of the right triceps surae, quadriceps and hamstrings muscle groups was determined by magnetic resonance imaging.
Across participants, the difference between usual and maximal walking speed was predominantly dictated by maximum walking speed (r=.85). We therefore report maximum walking speed (1.76 and 2.17 m/s in Slower and Faster, p<.001) rather than the difference between usual and maximal. Plantarflexion RFD was 38% lower (p=.002) in Slower compared to Faster. MG rate of EMG rise was 34% lower (p=.01) in Slower than Faster, but SO rate of EMG rise did not differ between groups (p=.73). Contrary to our hypothesis, muscle CSA was not lower in Slower than Faster for the muscle groups tested, which included triceps surae (p=.44), quadriceps (p=.76) and hamstrings (p=.98). MG rate of EMG rise was positively associated with RFD and maximum 10m walking speed, but not usual 10m walking speed.
These findings support the conclusion that maximum walking speed is limited by impaired neuromuscular force and activation of the triceps surae muscle group. Future research should further evaluate the utility of maximum walking speed for use in clinical assessment to detect and monitor age-related functional decline.
PMCID: PMC3594593  PMID: 23376102
aging; walking; mobility; muscle; electromyography
10.  Electromyographic responses during time get up and go test in water (wTUG) 
SpringerPlus  2013;2:217.
The aim of this study was to use sEMG to measure the neuromuscular activity during the TUG task in water, and compare this with the responses for the same task on land. Ten healthy subjects [5 males and 5 females [mean ± SD]: age, 22.0 ± 3.1 yr; body mass, 63.9 ± 17.2 kg. A telemetry EMG system was used on the following muscles on the right side of the body: the quadriceps – rectus femoris [RF], long head of the biceps femoris [BF], tibialis anterior [TA], gastrocnemius medialis [GM], soleus [SOL], rectus abdominis [RA] and erector spinae [ES]. Each subject performed the TUG test three times with five minutes recover between trials in water and on dry land. The % MVC was significantly different (p < 0.05) for majority of the muscles tested during the TUG water compared to dry land. % MVC of RF [p = 0.003, t = 4.07]; BF [p = 0.000, t = 6.8]; TA [p = 0.005, t = 5.9]; and SOL [p = 0.048, t = 1.98]; RA [p = 0.007, t = 3.45]; and ES [p = 0.004, t = 3.78]. The muscle activation of the trunk and the lower limb [VM RF, BF, TA, GM and SOL] were lower in water compared to dry land, when performing a TUG test.
PMCID: PMC3657083  PMID: 23705108
EMG; Aquatic; Time to up and go; Hydrotherapy
11.  Premature deactivation of soleus during the propulsive phase of cat jumping 
It has been shown that cat soleus (SOL) forces remain nearly constant despite increases in electromyography (EMG) activity for increasing speeds of locomotion, while medial gastrocnemius (MG) forces and EMG activity increase in parallel. Furthermore, during jumping, average cat SOL forces decrease, while average EMG activity increases dramatically compared with walking conditions. Finally, during rapid paw-shake movements, SOL forces and EMG activities are nearly zero. Based on these results, we hypothesized that the SOL is deactivated, despite ankle extensor requirements, if the contractile conditions limit SOL force potential severely. The purposes of this study were to (i) investigate SOL EMG activity and force as a function of its contractile conditions during jumping, (ii) test whether SOL EMG activity is associated with SOL contractile conditions, and (iii) determine the functional implications of SOL EMG activity during jumping. It was found that the SOL was prematurely deactivated in two distinct phases during the propulsive phase of jumping, in which shortening speeds approached or even exceeded the maximal speed of muscle shortening. We concluded that the SOL was prematurely deactivated to save energy because its mechanical work output approached zero, and speculated that the first phase of deactivation might be caused by a decrease in group Ia firing associated with active shortening and the second by a pre-programmed response inherent to the central pattern generator.
PMCID: PMC2607386  PMID: 17848364
cat jumping; force sharing; muscle inhibition; contractile conditions
12.  Knowledge of Repetitions Range Affects Force Production in Trained Females 
Most studies have examined pacing strategies with cyclical activities (running and cycling). It has been demonstrated that males employ different pacing strategies during repeated maximal voluntary contractions (MVCs) dependent upon a known endpoint. Since different fatiguing mechanisms have been identified between the genders, it is not known if females use comparable pacing strategies. The purpose of this study was to examine if informing female subjects regarding the number of MVCs to perform would affect force and electromyography (EMG). Twenty well-trained females completed 3 fatiguing protocols in a randomized order. In the control condition participants were informed they would perform twelve MVCs and then actually completed twelve. In the unknown condition they were not told how many MVCs to perform but were stopped after twelve. In the deception condition they were initially informed to perform 6 MVCs, but after the 6th MVC they were asked to perform a few more MVCs and were stopped after twelve. During the first 6 MVCs, forces in the deception condition were greater compared to the unknown (p = 0.021, ES = 0.65, 5%) and control (p = 0.022, ES = 0.42, 3%) conditions. No differences were found between conditions in the last 6 MVCs. A main effect for repetitions showed force deficits during the first 6 MVCs (p = 0.000, ES = 1.81, 13%) and last 6 MVCs (p = 0.05, ES = 0.34, 3%). No differences were found between conditions in biceps and triceps EMG. However, EMG decreased during the first 6 MVCs for biceps (p = 0.001, ES = 1.0, 14%) and triceps (p = 0.001, ES = 0.76, 14%) across conditions. No differences were found in the last 6 MVCs. The anticipation of performing fewer MVCs led to increased force, whereas no endpoint led to decreased force production.
Key pointsPacing strategies occur during repeated (fatiguing) MVCs as a function of end point expectations.Females use similar pacing strategies as previously published results with males.Without a known end point, females will tend to pace themselves by decreasing force output even when asked to perform maximal contractions.
PMCID: PMC4234941  PMID: 25435764
Fatigue; electromyography; deception; pacing
13.  Muscle fibre recruitment can respond to the mechanics of the muscle contraction 
This study investigates the motor unit recruitment patterns between and within muscles of the triceps surae during cycling on a stationary ergometer at a range of pedal speeds and resistances. Muscle activity was measured from the soleus (SOL), medial gastrocnemius (MG) and lateral gastrocnemius (LG) using surface electromyography (EMG) and quantified using wavelet and principal component analysis. Muscle fascicle strain rates were quantified using ultrasonography, and the muscle–tendon unit lengths were calculated from the segmental kinematics. The EMG intensities showed that the body uses the SOL relatively more for the higher-force, lower-velocity contractions than the MG and LG. The EMG spectra showed a shift to higher frequencies at faster muscle fascicle strain rates for MG: these shifts were independent of the level of muscle activity, the locomotor load and the muscle fascicle strain. These results indicated that a selective recruitment of the faster motor units occurred within the MG muscle in response to the increasing muscle fascicle strain rates. This preferential recruitment of the faster fibres for the faster tasks indicates that in some circumstances motor unit recruitment during locomotion can match the contractile properties of the muscle fibres to the mechanical demands of the contraction.
PMCID: PMC1664648  PMID: 16849250
muscle; recruitment; fibre-type
14.  Improvement of isometric dorsiflexion protocol for assessment of tibialis anterior muscle strength☆ 
MethodsX  2015;2:107-111.
Graphical abstract
A comparison of the existing isometric dorsiflexion protocol (Setting 1) and the proposed improvement of the protocol which includes the fixation of the toes in addition to fixing the ankle and foot (Setting 2) are shown. The triceps surae muscle group comprises of the lateral gastrocnemius (LG), medial gastrocnemius (MG) and soleus (SOL).
It is important to accurately estimate the electromyogram (EMG)/force relationship of triceps surae (TS) muscle for detecting strength deficit of tibalis anterior (TA) muscle. In literature, the protocol for recording EMG and force of dorsiflexion have been described, and the necessity for immobilizing the ankle has been explained. However, there is a significant variability of the results among researchers even though they report the fixation of the ankle.
We have determined that toe extension can cause significant variation in the dorsiflexion force and EMG of TS and this can occur despite following the current guidelines which require immobilizing the ankle. The results also show that there was a large increase in the variability of the force and the RMS of EMG of TS when the toes were not strapped compared with when they were strapped. Thus, with the current guidelines, where there are no instructions regarding the necessity of strapping the toes, the EMG/force relationship of TS could be incorrect and give an inaccurate assessment of the dorsiflexor TA strength.
In summary,
•Current methodology to estimate the dorsiflexor TA strength with respect to the TS activity, emphasizing on ankle immobilization is insufficient to prevent large variability in the measurements.•Toe extension during dorsiflexion was found to be one source of variability in estimating the TA strength.•It is recommended that guidelines for recording force and EMG from TA and TS muscles should require the strapping of the toes along with the need for immobilizing the ankle.
PMCID: PMC4487336  PMID: 26150978
Improvement of isometric dorsiflexion protocol; Isometric dorsiflexion; Tibialis anterior; Triceps surae; Coactivation; Electromyogram
15.  The Effect of Stimulus Anticipation on the Interpolated Twitch Technique 
The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of expected and unexpected interpolated stimuli (IT) during a maximum voluntary contraction on quadriceps force output and activation. Two groups of male subjects who were either inexperienced (MI: no prior experience with IT tests) or experienced (ME: previously experienced 10 or more series of IT tests) received an expected or unexpected IT while performing quadriceps isometric maximal voluntary contractions (MVCs). Measurements included MVC force, quadriceps and hamstrings electromyographic (EMG) activity, and quadriceps inactivation as measured by the interpolated twitch technique (ITT). When performing MVCs with the expectation of an IT, the knowledge or lack of knowledge of an impending IT occurring during a contraction did not result in significant overall differences in force, ITT inactivation, quadriceps or hamstrings EMG activity. However, the expectation of an IT significantly (p ¼ 0.0001) reduced MVC force (9.5%) and quadriceps EMG activity (14.9%) when compared to performing MVCs with prior knowledge that stimulation would not occur. While ME exhibited non-significant decreases when expecting an IT during a MVC, MI force and EMG activity significantly decreased 12.4% and 20.9% respectively. Overall, ME had significantly (p ¼ 0.0001) higher force (14.5%) and less ITT inactivation (10.4%) than MI. The expectation of the noxious stimuli may account for the significant decrements in force and activation during the ITT.
Key pointsA single orientation session may not be adequate for a valid estimation of muscle activation using the ITT.The expectation of an electrical stimulation whether delivered or not can impair performance.The validity of the ITT for estimating the extent of full muscle activation must be viewed with caution, since the expectation of IT discomfort may inhibit the individual's ability to exert maximum force, especially with inexperienced participants.
PMCID: PMC3761925  PMID: 24149960
Muscle activation; electromyography; evoked stimulation
16.  Assessment of the paraspinal muscles of subjects presenting an idiopathic scoliosis: an EMG pilot study 
It is known that the back muscles of scoliotic subjects present abnormalities in their fiber type composition. Some researchers have hypothesized that abnormal fiber composition can lead to paraspinal muscle dysfunction such as poor neuromuscular efficiency and muscle fatigue. EMG parameters were used to evaluate these impairments. The purpose of the present study was to examine the clinical potential of different EMG parameters such as amplitude (RMS) and median frequency (MF) of the power spectrum in order to assess the back muscles of patients presenting idiopathic scoliosis in terms of their neuromuscular efficiency and their muscular fatigue.
L5/S1 moments during isometric efforts in extension were measured in six subjects with idiopathic scoliosis and ten healthy controls. The subjects performed three 7 s ramp contractions ranging from 0 to 100% maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) and one 30 s sustained contraction at 75% MVC. Surface EMG activity was recorded bilaterally from the paraspinal muscles at L5, L3, L1 and T10. The slope of the EMG RMS/force (neuromuscular efficiency) and MF/force (muscle composition) relationships were computed during the ramp contractions while the slope of the EMG RMS/time and MF/time relationships (muscle fatigue) were computed during the sustained contraction. Comparisons were performed between the two groups and between the left and right sides for the EMG parameters.
No significant group or side differences between the slopes of the different measures used were found at the level of the apex (around T10) of the major curve of the spine. However, a significant side difference was seen at a lower level (L3, p = 0.01) for the MF/time parameter.
The EMG parameters used in this study could not discriminate between the back muscles of scoliotic subjects and those of control subject regarding fiber type composition, neuromuscular efficiency and muscle fatigue at the level of the apex. The results of this pilot study indicate that compensatory strategies are potentially seen at lower level of the spine with these EMG parameters.
PMCID: PMC1079862  PMID: 15760468
EMG; scoliosis; neuromuscular efficiency; muscle fatigue
17.  Neuromuscular performance of paretic versus non-paretic plantar flexors after stroke 
European Journal of Applied Physiology  2011;111(12):3041-3049.
The objective of this study was to compare the neuromuscular function of the paretic and non-paretic plantar flexors (i.e. soleus, gastrocnemius medialis, lateralis) in chronic stroke patients. It was hypothesized that the contractile rate of force development (RFD) and neural activation, assessed by electromyogram (EMG) and V-waves normalized to the M-wave, and voluntary activation (twitch interpolation) would be reduced during plantar flexor maximum voluntary isometric contraction and that the evoked muscle twitch properties would be reduced in the paretic limb. Ten chronic stroke survivors completed the study. The main findings were that the paretic side showed deteriorated function compared to the non-paretic leg in terms of (1) RFD in all analyzed time windows from force onset to 250 ms, although relative RFD (i.e. normalized to maximum voluntary force) was similar; (2) fast neural activation (for most analyzed time windows), assessed by EMG activity in time windows from EMG onset to 250 ms; (3) V-wave responses (except for gastrocnemius medialis); (4) voluntary activation; (5) the evoked peak twitch force, although there was no evidence of intrinsic muscle slowing; (6) EMG activity obtained at maximal voluntary force. In conclusion, this study demonstrates considerable neuromuscular asymmetry of the plantar flexors in chronic stroke survivors. Effective rehabilitation regimes should be investigated.
PMCID: PMC3218282  PMID: 21455614
H-reflex; Neural drive; Brain infarction; Cerebrovascular accident; Rehabilitation
18.  Electromyographic, cerebral, and muscle hemodynamic responses during intermittent, isometric contractions of the biceps brachii at three submaximal intensities 
This study examined the electromyographic, cerebral and muscle hemodynamic responses during intermittent isometric contractions of biceps brachii at 20, 40, and 60% of maximal voluntary contraction (MVC). Eleven volunteers completed 2 min of intermittent isometric contractions (12/min) at an elbow angle of 90° interspersed with 3 min rest between intensities in systematic order. Surface electromyography (EMG) was recorded from the right biceps brachii and near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) was used to simultaneously measure left prefrontal and right biceps brachii oxyhemoglobin (HbO2), deoxyhemoglobin (HHb), and total hemoglobin (Hbtot). Transcranial Doppler ultrasound was used to measure middle cerebral artery velocity (MCAv) bilaterally. Finger photoplethysmography was used to record beat-to-beat blood pressure and heart rate. EMG increased with force output from 20 to 60% MVC (P < 0.05). Cerebral HbO2 and Hbtot increased while HHb decreased during contractions with differences observed between 60% vs. 40% and 20% MVC (P < 0.05). Muscle HbO2 decreased while HHb increased during contractions with differences being observed among intensities (P < 0.05). Muscle Hbtot increased from rest at 20% MVC (P < 0.05), while no further change was observed at 40 and 60% MVC (P > 0.05). MCAv increased from rest to exercise but was not different among intensities (P > 0.05). Force output correlated with the root mean square EMG and changes in muscle HbO2 (P < 0.05), but not changes in cerebral HbO2 (P > 0.05) at all three intensities. Force output declined by 8% from the 1st to the 24th contraction only at 60% MVC and was accompanied by systematic increases in RMS, cerebral HbO2 and Hbtot with a leveling off in muscle HbO2 and Hbtot. These changes were independent of alterations in mean arterial pressure. Since cerebral blood flow and oxygenation were elevated at 60% MVC, we attribute the development of fatigue to reduced muscle oxygen availability rather than impaired central neuronal activation.
PMCID: PMC4052733  PMID: 24966837
biceps force; electromyography; cerebral blood flow and oxygenation; muscle blood flow and oxygenation
19.  The Functional Role of the Triceps Surae Muscle during Human Locomotion 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e52943.
Despite numerous studies addressing the issue, it remains unclear whether the triceps surae muscle group generates forward propulsive force during gait, commonly identified as ‘push-off’. In order to challenge the push-off postulate, one must probe the effect of varying the propulsive force while annulling the effect of the progression velocity. This can be obtained by adding a load to the subject while maintaining the same progression velocity.
Ten healthy subjects initiated gait in both unloaded and loaded conditions (about 30% of body weight attached at abdominal level), for two walking velocities, spontaneous and fast. Ground reaction force and EMG activity of soleus and gastrocnemius medialis and lateralis muscles of the stance leg were recorded. Centre of mass velocity and position, centre of pressure position, and disequilibrium torque were calculated.
At spontaneous velocity, adding the load increased disequilibrium torque and propulsive force. However, load had no effect on the vertical braking force or amplitude of triceps activity. At fast progression velocity, disequilibrium torque, vertical braking force and triceps EMG increased with respect to spontaneous velocity. Still, adding the load did not further increase braking force or EMG.
Triceps surae is not responsible for the generation of propulsive force but is merely supporting the body during walking and restraining it from falling. By controlling the disequilibrium torque, however, triceps can affect the propulsive force through the exchange of potential into kinetic energy.
PMCID: PMC3547017  PMID: 23341916
20.  Neuromuscular Fatigue Is Not Different between Constant and Variable Frequency Stimulation 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e84740.
This study compared fatigue development of the triceps surae induced by two electrical stimulation protocols composed of constant and variable frequency trains (CFTs, VFTs, 450 trains, 30 Hz, 167 ms ON, 500 ms OFF and 146 ms ON, 500 ms OFF respectively). For the VFTs protocol a doublet (100 Hz) was used at the beginning of each train. The intensity used evoked 30% of a maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) and was defined using CFTs. Neuromuscular tests were performed before and after each protocol. Changes in excitation-contraction coupling were assessed by analysing the M-wave [at rest (Mmax) and during MVC (Msup)] and associated peak twitch (Pt). H-reflex [at rest (Hmax) and during MVC (Hsup)] and the motor evoked potential (MEP) during MVC were studied to assess spinal and corticospinal excitability of the soleus muscle. MVC decrease was similar between the protocols (−8%, P<0.05). Mmax, Msup and Pt decreased after both protocols (P<0.01). Hmax/Mmax was decreased (P<0.05), whereas Hsup/Msup and MEP/Msup remained unchanged after both protocols. The results indicate that CFTs and VFTs gave rise to equivalent neuromuscular fatigue. This fatigue resulted from alterations taking place at the muscular level. The finding that cortical and spinal excitability remained unchanged during MVC indicates that spinal and/or supraspinal mechanisms were activated to compensate for the loss of spinal excitability at rest.
PMCID: PMC3879309  PMID: 24392155
21.  Magnetic Versus Electrical Stimulation in the Interpolation Twitch Technique of Elbow Flexors 
The study compared peripheral magnetic with electrical stimulation of the biceps brachii m. (BB) in the single pulse Interpolation Twitch Technique (ITT). 14 healthy participants (31±7 years) participated in a within-subjects repeated-measures design study. Single, constant-current electrical and magnetic stimuli were delivered over the motor point of BB with supramaximal intensity (20% above maximum) at rest and at various levels of voluntary contraction. Force measurements from right elbow isometric flexion and muscle electromyograms (EMG) from the BB, the triceps brachii m. (TB) and the abductor pollicis brevis m. (APB) were obtained. The twitch forces at rest and maximal contractions, the twitch force-voluntary force relationship, the M-waves and the voluntary activation (VA) of BB between magnetic and electrical stimulation were compared. The mean amplitude of the twitches evoked at MVC was not significantly different between electrical (0.62 ± 0.49 N) and magnetic (0.81 ± 0.49 N) stimulation (p > 0.05), and the maximum VA of BB was comparable between electrical (95%) and magnetic (93%) stimulation (p > 0. 05). No differences (p >0.05) were revealed in the BB M-waves between electrical (13.47 ± 0.49 and magnetic (12.61 ± 0.58 stimulation. The TB M-waves were also similar (p > 0.05) but electrically evoked APB M-waves were significantly larger than those evoked by magnetic stimulation (p < 0.05). The twitch-voluntary force relationship over the range of MVCs was best described by non-linear functions for both electrical and magnetic stimulation. The electrically evoked resting twitches were consistently larger in amplitude than the magnetically evoked ones (mean difference 3.1 ± 3.34 N, p < 0.05). Reduction of the inter-electrodes distance reduced the twitch amplitude by 6.5 ± 6.2 N (p < 0.05). The fundamental similarities in voluntary activation assessment of BB with peripheral electrical and magnetic stimulation point towards a promising new application of peripheral magnetic stimulation as an alternative to the conventional ITT for the assessment of BB voluntary activation.
Key points
The study compared peripheral electrical and magnetic stimulation in the assessment of voluntary activation using single pulse twitch interpolation of elbow flexors.
Key similarities between magnetic and electrical stimulation in the assessment of voluntary activation with the single pulse Interpolation Twitch Technique were revealed.
Voluntary activation at maximal contractions were similar for the two methods of stimulation and the twitch-voluntary force best fit with nonlinear functions for both magnetic and electrical stimulation.
The fundamental similarities in voluntary activation assessment of elbow flexor, m. Biceps Brachii with these two methods of stimulation support the application of peripheral magnetic stimulation using the conventional Interpolation Twitch Technique.
The painless assessment of voluntary activation with peripheral magnetic stimulation may strengthen its acceptance for clinical use in neuromuscular assessment.
PMCID: PMC3763319  PMID: 24150083
Electrical stimulation; magnetic stimulation; interpolation twitch technique; voluntary activation; elbow flexors.
22.  Task Dependent Motor Strategy of Human Triceps Surae Muscle 
Even though many investigators have analyzed the functional difference of the three heads of triceps surae in human, none of them succeeded to clarify the distinctive functional difference of those three muscles. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the integrated EMGs (IEMGs) of the triceps surae muscle, gastrocnemius and soleus, were task dependent. IEMGs of the medial head of the gastrocnemius (GM), lateral head of the gastrocnemius (GL), and soleus (SO) were investigated at three different knee joint angles, at four different duration of ramp contraction, with the generation of a single ongoing force, from 0 to the maximum voluntary contraction (MVC). Three-way ANOVAs for repeated measures were used to estimate differences in IEMG values in each of the GM, GL, and SO, taken at four different durations of ramp contraction (5, 10, 15 and 20 s), at three different knee joint angles (0 deg, 30 deg and 90 deg), across ankle plantar flexion levels of force (10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 and 70% MVC). According to three-way ANOVAs for repeated measures, IEMG of the GM muscle showed a first-order interaction between force and knee joint angle. In addition, IEMG of the GL muscle showed first-order interactions between the level of force and knee joint angle, and between the level of force and duration of ramp contraction. Furthermore, IEMG of the SO showed a main effect only on level of force. These results suggest that the each head of the triceps surae may work task dependently.
PMCID: PMC4316516  PMID: 25792933
duration of contraction; joint angle; force; triceps surae muscle; isometric contraction
23.  Task-dependent inhibition of slow-twitch soleus and excitation of fast-twitch gastrocnemius do not require high movement speed and velocity-dependent sensory feedback 
Although individual heads of triceps surae, soleus (SO) and medial gastrocnemius (MG) muscles, are often considered close functional synergists, previous studies have shown distinct activity patterns between them in some motor behaviors. The goal of this study was to test two hypotheses explaining inhibition of slow SO with respect to fast MG: (1) inhibition occurs at high movement velocities and mediated by velocity-dependent sensory feedback and (2) inhibition depends on the ankle-knee joint moment combination and does not require high movement velocities. The hypotheses were tested by comparing the SO EMG/MG EMG ratio during fast and slow motor behaviors (cat paw shake responses vs. back, straight leg load lifting in humans), which had the same ankle extension-knee flexion moment combination; and during fast and slow behaviors with the ankle extension-knee extension moment combination (human vertical jumping and stance phase of walking in cats and leg load lifting in humans). In addition, SO EMG/MG EMG ratio was determined during cat paw shake responses and walking before and after removal of stretch velocity-dependent sensory feedback by self-reinnervating SO and/or gastrocnemius. We found the ratio SO EMG/MG EMG below 1 (p < 0.05) during fast paw shake responses and slow back load lifting, requiring the ankle extension-knee flexion moment combination; whereas the ratio SO EMG/MG EMG was above 1 (p < 0.05) during fast vertical jumping and slow tasks of walking and leg load lifting, requiring ankle extension-knee extension moments. Removal of velocity-dependent sensory feedback did not affect the SO EMG/MG EMG ratio in cats. We concluded that the relative inhibition of SO does not require high muscle velocities, depends on ankle-knee moment combinations, and is mechanically advantageous for allowing a greater MG contribution to ankle extension and knee flexion moments.
PMCID: PMC4211390  PMID: 25389407
triceps surae; inhibition of soleus; muscle coordination; electromyography; paw shake; walking; load lifting; jumping
24.  Determination of an Optimal Threshold Value for Muscle Activity Detection in EMG Analysis 
It is commonly agreed that one needs to use a threshold value in the detection of muscle activity timing in electromyographic (EMG) signal analysis. However, the algorithm for threshold determination lacks an agreement between the investigators. In this study we aimed to determine a proper threshold value in an incremental cycling exercise for accurate EMG signal analysis. Nine healthy recreationally active male subjects cycled until exhaustion. EMG recordings were performed on four low extremity muscle groups; gastrocnemius lateralis (GL), gastrocnemius medialis (GM), soleus (SOL) and vastus medialis (VM). We have analyzed our data using three different threshold levels: 25%, 35% and 45% of the mean RMS EMG value. We compared the appropriateness of these threshold values using two criteria: (1) significant correlation between the actual and estimated number of bursts and (2) proximity of the regression line of the actual and estimated number of bursts to the line of identity. It had been possible to find a significant correlation between the actual and estimated number of bursts with the 25, 35 and 45% threshold values for the GL muscle. Correlation analyses for the VM muscle had shown that the number of bursts estimated with the 35% threshold value was found to be significantly correlated with the actual number of bursts. For the GM muscle, it had been possible to predict the burst number by using either the 35% or 45% threshold value and for the SOL muscle the 25% threshold value was found as the best predictor for actual number of burst estimation. Detailed analyses of the actual and estimated number of bursts had shown that success of threshold estimation may differ among muscle groups. Evaluation of our data had clearly shown that it is important to select proper threshold values for correct EMG signal analyses. Using a single threshold value for different exercise intensities and different muscle groups may cause misleading results.
Key pointsα priori accepted threshold value may cause erroneous results in EMG analysis.Using a single threshold value for different exercise intensities and different muscle groups may cause misleading results.The investigators may need to use different threshold selection strategies for different workloads.The investigators have to justify the choice of threshold selection with valid arguments before detailed EMG signal analyses.
PMCID: PMC3761824  PMID: 24149789
Electromyography; cycling; incremental exercise; burst detection; threshold
While elastic resistance training, targeting the upper body is effective for strength training, the effect of elastic resistance training on lower body muscle activity remains questionable. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the EMG‐angle relationship of the quadriceps muscle during 10‐RM knee‐extensions performed with elastic tubing and an isotonic strength training machine.
7 women and 9 men aged 28‐67 years (mean age 44 and 41 years, respectively) participated. Electromyographic (EMG) activity was recorded in 10 muscles during the concentric and eccentric contraction phase of a knee extension exercise performed with elastic tubing and in training machine and normalized to maximal voluntary isometric contraction (MVC) EMG (nEMG). Knee joint angle was measured during the exercises using electronic inclinometers (range of motion 0‐90°).
When comparing the machine and elastic resistance exercises there were no significant differences in peak EMG of the rectus femoris (RF), vastus lateralis (VL), vastus medialis (VM) during the concentric contraction phase. However, during the eccentric phase, peak EMG was significantly higher (p<0.01) in RF and VM when performing knee extensions using the training machine. In VL and VM the EMG‐angle pattern was different between the two training modalities (significant angle by exercise interaction). When using elastic resistance, the EMG‐angle pattern peaked towards full knee extension (0°), whereas angle at peak EMG occurred closer to knee flexion position (90°) during the machine exercise. Perceived loading (Borg CR10) was similar during knee extensions performed with elastic tubing (5.7±0.6) compared with knee extensions performed in training machine (5.9±0.5).
Knee extensions performed with elastic tubing induces similar high (>70% nEMG) quadriceps muscle activity during the concentric contraction phase, but slightly lower during the eccentric contraction phase, as knee extensions performed using an isotonic training machine. During the concentric contraction phase the two different conditions displayed reciprocal EMG‐angle patterns during the range of motion.
Level of Evidence:
PMCID: PMC3537465  PMID: 23316424
Electromyography; strength training; quadriceps; perceived exertion

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