Context: Muscle fatigue is generally categorized in 2 ways: that caused by peripheral weakness (peripheral fatigue) and that caused by a progressive failure of voluntary neural drive (central fatigue). Numerous variables have been studied in conjunction with fatigue protocols, including postural stability, maximum voluntary contraction force, and reaction time. When torque recordings fall below 50% of a maximum voluntary contraction, the muscle is described as fatigued, but whether this value is a good indicator of fatigue has not been studied.
Objective: To compare the effects of 2 ankle musculature fatigue protocols (30% and 50%) on the duration of postural stability dysfunction.
Design: To assess differences between the 30% and 50% fatigue protocols, we calculated a 1 between-groups factor (subjects) and 2 within-groups factors (fatigue, test) analysis of variance.
Setting: E.J. Nutter Athletic Training Facility.
Patients or Other Participants: Twenty subjects (10 men, 10 women; age = 21.15 ± 2.23 years; height = 172.97 ± 9.86 cm; mass = 70.62 ± 14.60 kg) volunteered for this study. Subjects had no history of lower extremity injury, vestibular or balance disorders, functional ankle instability, or head injury in the past 6 months.
Intervention(s): On separate days, subjects performed isokinetic fatiguing contractions of the plantar flexors and dorsiflexors in a 30% protocol (70% decrease in strength) and a 50% protocol (50% decrease in strength).
Main Outcome Measure(s): Baseline and postfatigue postural stability scores were determined before and after the isokinetic fatiguing contractions. Plantar-flexion peak-torque measurements were obtained for the 2 fatiguing protocols. Three prefatigue and 12 postfatigue postural stability trials were recorded. Velocities for testing were 60°/s for plantar flexion and 120°/s for dorsiflexion.
Results: Sway velocity was significantly greater when the ankle was fatigued to 30% (1.56°/s) than in the 50% condition (1.36°/s). For the 30% protocol, sway was significantly impaired when the pretest condition (1.19°/s) was compared with posttest trial 1 (2.34°/s), trial 2 (2.37°/s), and trial 3 (1.71°/s). For the 50% protocol, sway was significantly impaired when the pretest condition (1.27°/s) was compared with posttest trial 1 (2.02°/s).
Conclusions: The 30% fatigue protocol resulted in significantly longer impairment of postural stability than the 50% protocol. Because the 30% protocol resulted in a greater effect but was relatively short-lived (approximately 75 to 90 s), it is more useful for research purposes.