Force Sense of the Knee Not Affected by Fatiguing the Knee Extensors and Flexors

in Journal of Sport Rehabilitation
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Knee injuries commonly occur in later stages of competition, indicating that fatigue may influence dynamic knee stability. Force sense (FS) is a submodality of proprioception influenced by muscle mechanoreceptors, which, if negatively affected by fatigue, may result in less-effective neuromuscular control.


To determine the effects of peripheral fatigue on FS of the quadriceps and hamstrings.


Quasi-experimental study design.


20 healthy and physically active women and men (age 23.4 ± 2.7 y, mass 69.5 ± 10.9 kg, height 169.7 ± 9.4 cm).


Fatigue was induced during a protocol with 2 sets of 40 repetitions, and the last set was truncated at 90 repetitions or stopped if torque production dropped below 25% of peak torque.

Main Outcome Measures:

FS of the hamstrings and quadriceps was tested on separate days before and after 3 sets of isokinetic knee flexion and extension to fatigue by examining the ability to produce a target isometric torque (15% MVIC) with and without visual feedback (FS error). Electromyographic data of the tested musculature were collected to calculate and determine median frequency shift. T tests and Wilcoxon signed-rank tests were conducted to examine prefatigue and postfatigue FS error for flexion and extension.


Despite verification of fatigue via torque-production decrement and shift in median frequency, no significant differences were observed in FS error for either knee flexion (pre 0.54 ± 2.28 N•m, post 0.47 ± 1.62 N•m) or extension (pre –0.28 ± 2.69 N•m, post –0.21 ± 1.78 N•m) prefatigue compared with the postfatigue condition.


Although previous research has demonstrated that peripheral fatigue negatively affects threshold to detect passive motion (TTDPM), it did not affect FS as measured in this study. The peripheral-fatigue protocol may have a greater effect on the mechanoreceptors responsible for TTDPM than those responsible for FS. Further investigation into the effects of fatigue across various modes of proprioception is warranted.

Allison is with the Dept of Sports Medicine and Nutrition, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA. Sell is with the Dept of Orthopaedic Surgery, Duke University, Durham, NC. Benjaminse is with the Center for Human Movement Sciences, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands. Lephart is with the College of Health Sciences, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY.

Address author correspondence to Katelyn Allison at