Differentiation of the Strength of Back Muscle Contraction Under Fatigue: Does Force Feedback Play a Role?

in Journal of Sport Rehabilitation
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Objective: This study investigates the ability of subjects to differentiate the strength of back muscle contraction with and without feedback information on force produced under fatigue and nonfatigue conditions. Design: Controlled laboratory study. Setting: Research laboratory environment. Participants: A group of 52 healthy young men participated in the study. Intervention: Subjects self-estimated 50% of the maximal voluntary isometric contraction of back muscles either on their own volition or on the basis of information about the actual force, before and after the Sørensen fatigue test. Main Outcome Measures: The force was measured by means of the FiTRO Back Dynamometer. Results: The self-estimated 50% maximal voluntary isometric contraction was significantly higher than the one calculated from maximal voluntary isometric contraction during 10 trials in 2 repeated sessions (8.3% and 10.0%, P < .05). However, when feedback on the force produced was provided, significantly higher values were observed during an initial trial in both sessions (8.5%, P = .04 and 12.1%, P = .01). Subjects were able to estimate the target force during the following trials. Fatigue induced a decrease in peak force (7.7%, P = .04), whereas the ability to regulate the prescribed force was not compromised. Constant error was lower with than without force feedback during both measurements (2.15% and 6.85%; 3.06% and 8.56%). However, constant and variable errors were greater under fatigue than nonfatigue conditions (8.43% and 5.55%; 0.41% and 0.37%). Similarly, root mean square error decreased with force feedback (from 6.88% to 3.48% and from 8.74% to 5.09%) and increased under fatigue (from 5.87% to 8.67%). Conclusions: These findings indicate that force feedback plays a role in the differentiation of the strength of back muscle contraction, regardless of fatigue. It contributes to a more precise regulation of force produced during voluntary isometric contraction of back muscles. This promising method awaits further experimentation to be applied for individuals with low back pain.

Zemková is with the Department of Sports Kinanthropology, Faculty of Physical Education and Sports, Comenius University in Bratislava, Bratislava, Slovakia; and Institute of Physiotherapy, Balneology and Medical Rehabilitation, University of Ss. Cyril and Methodius in Trnava, Trnava, Slovakia. Zemková and Jeleň are with Sports Technology Institute, Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology, Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava, Bratislava, Slovakia.

Zemková (erika.zemkova@uniba.sk) is corresponding author.
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