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Thomas J. Burkholder and T. Richard Nichols

Postural regulation is an important part of a variety of motor tasks, including quiet standing and locomotion. Muscle length feedback, both the autogenic length feedback arising from a muscle's own spindles, and heterogenic length feedback, arising from its agonists and antagonists, is a strong modulator of muscle force and well suited to postural maintenance. The effects of this reflex feedback on 3-D force generation and limb mechanics are not known. In this paper, we present a mechanical model for relating 3-D changes in cat hindlimb posture to changes in muscle lengths. These changes in muscle length are used to estimate changes in both intrinsic muscle force generation and muscle activation by length feedback pathways. Few muscles are found to have directly agonist mechanical actions, and most differ by more than 20°. Endpoint force fields are largely uniform across the space investigated. Both autogenic and heterogenic feedback contribute to whole limb resistance to perturbation, autogenic pathways being most dramatic. Length feedback strongly reinforced a restoring force in response to end-point displacement.

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Kristen E. Thomas and Leah R. Bent

The integration of vestibular and somatosensory information for the control of lower limb musculature remains elusive. To determine whether a subthreshold vestibular input influences the cutaneous evoked response, the isometric EMG activity in the posturally inactive soleus muscles of 13 healthy, seated subjects was collected. Vestibular afferents were activated using galvanic vestibular stimulation (GVS; 1.8–2.5mA, 500ms), while percutaneous electrical stimulation was delivered to the distal tibial nerve (11ms train of 3 × 1.0 ms pulses, 200Hz) to activate foot sole skin afferents. GVS elicited responses in soleus both independently and when combined with cutaneous stimulation. The responses to the combined sensory input showed an interaction between the two sensory modalities to influence muscle activation. Of note is the presence of significant muscle modulation in the combined condition, where subthreshold vestibular inputs altered the outcome of the cutaneous reflex response. This finding has implications for individuals with sensory deficiency. In the case of an absent or deficient sensory modality, balance protective reflexes to maintain postural equilibrium may be enhanced with targeted sensory augmentation.

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Kristof Kipp, Ron Pfeiffer, Michelle Sabick, Chad Harris, Jeanie Sutter, Seth Kuhlman and Kevin Shea

The purpose of this study was to investigate muscle activation patterns during a landing task in boys and girls through the use of muscle synergies. Electromyographical data from six lower extremity muscles were collected from 11 boys and 16 girls while they performed single-leg drop-landings. Electromyographical data from six leg muscles were rectified, smoothed, and normalized to maximum dynamic muscle activity during landing. Data from 100 ms before to 100 ms after touchdown were submitted to factor analyses to extract muscle synergies along with the associated activation and weighing coefficients. Boys and girls both used three muscle synergies. The activation coefficients of these synergies captured muscle activity during the prelanding, touchdown, and postlanding phases of the single-leg drop-landing. Analysis of the weighing coefficients indicated that within the extracted muscle synergies the girls emphasized activation of the medial hamstring muscle during the prelanding and touchdown synergy whereas boys emphasized activation of the vastus medialis during the postlanding synergy. Although boys and girls use similar muscle synergies during single-leg drop-landings, they differed in which muscles were emphasized within these synergies. The observed differences in aspects related to the muscle synergies during landing may have implications with respect to knee injury risk.

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Max R. Paquette, Audrey Zucker-Levin, Paul DeVita, Joseph Hoekstra and David Pearsall

The purpose of this study was to compare lower extremity joint angular position and muscle activity during elliptical exercise using different foot positions and also during exercise on a lateral elliptical trainer. Sixteen men exercised on a lateral elliptical and on a standard elliptical trainer using straight foot position, increased toe-out angle, and a wide step. Motion capture and electromyography systems were used to obtain 3D lower extremity joint kinematics and muscle activity, respectively. The lateral trainer produced greater sagittal and frontal plane knee range of motion (ROM), greater peak knee flexion and extension, and higher vastus medialis activation compared with other conditions (P < .05). Toe-out and wide step produced the greatest and smallest peak knee adduction angles, respectively (P < .05). The lateral trainer produced greater sagittal and frontal plane hip ROM and greater peak hip extension and flexion compared with all other conditions (P < .05). Toe-out angle produced the largest peak hip external rotation angle and lowest gluteus muscle activation (P < .05). Findings from this study indicate that standard elliptical exercise with wide step may place the knee joint in a desirable frontal plane angular position to reduce medial knee loads, and that lateral elliptical exercise could help improve quadriceps strength but could also lead to larger knee contact forces.

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Nicole A. Dinn and David G. Behm

Purpose:

Studies have both supported and refuted the concept that it is the intent to perform ballistic contractions that determines velocity-specific gains in resistance training. The purpose of this investigation was to determine whether ballistic intent is as effective as ballistic movement in improving muscle activation, force, movement time, and reaction time.

Methods:

Subjects completed 8 wk of punch training. A dynamic (DYN) group trained with elastic resistance bands, and the isometric (ISO) group trained with an unyielding strap. A control (CTRL) group was also tested. Pretesting and posttesting measures included isometric force; electromyography (EMG) of triceps, biceps, pectoralis major, and latissimus dorsi; movement and reaction time of both arms; and a quick-hands test of coordination.

Results:

Triceps iEMG increased by 63% in the ISO group (P = .03). Pectoralis major iEMG increased by 65% in the DYN group (P = .007). Movement time decreased 17.6% in the DYN training group (P = .001). Isometric force did not improve in either training group or in the CTRL group.

Conclusions:

Because of its specificity of movement, dynamic training might be a more appropriate method to improve punching speed for martial artists and boxers. The intent to contract explosively over a short duration does not appear to be beneficial in increasing force production or speed of movement in punching.

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Saira Chaudhry, Dylan Morrissey, Roger C. Woledge, Dan L. Bader and Hazel R.C. Screen

Triceps surae eccentric exercise is more effective than concentric exercise for treating Achilles tendinopathy, however the mechanisms underpinning these effects are unclear. This study compared the biomechanical characteristics of eccentric and concentric exercises to identify differences in the tendon load response. Eleven healthy volunteers performed eccentric and concentric exercises on a force plate, with ultrasonography, motion tracking, and EMG applied to measure Achilles tendon force, lower limb movement, and leg muscle activation. Tendon length was ultrasonographically tracked and quantified using a novel algorithm. The Fourier transform of the ground reaction force was also calculated to investigate for tremor, or perturbations. Tendon stiffness and extension did not vary between exercise types (P = .43). However, tendon perturbations were significantly higher during eccentric than concentric exercises (25%–40% higher, P = .02). Furthermore, perturbations during eccentric exercises were found to be negatively correlated with the tendon stiffness (R 2 = .59). The particular efficacy of eccentric exercise does not appear to result from variation in tendon stiffness or extension within a given session. However, varied perturbation magnitude may have a role in mediating the observed clinical effects. This property is subject-specific, with the source and clinical timecourse of such perturbations requiring further research.

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Alison C. McDonald, Elora C. Brenneman, Alan C. Cudlip and Clark R. Dickerson

As the modern workplace is dominated by submaximal repetitive tasks, knowledge of the effect of task location is important to ensure workers are unexposed to potentially injurious demands imposed by repetitive work in awkward or sustained postures. The purpose of this investigation was to develop a three-dimensional spatial map of the muscle activity for the right upper extremity during laterally directed submaximal force exertions. Electromyographic (EMG) activity was recorded from fourteen muscles surrounding the shoulder complex as the participants exerted 40N of force in two directions (leftward, rightward) at 70 defined locations. Hand position in both push directions strongly influenced total and certain individual muscle demands as identified by repeated measures analysis of variance (P < .001). During rightward exertions individual muscle activation varied from 1 to 21% MVE and during leftward exertions it varied from 1 to 27% MVE with hand location. Continuous prediction equations for muscular demands based on three-dimensional spatial parameters were created with explained variance ranging from 25 to 73%. The study provides novel information for evaluating existing and proactive workplace designs, and may help identify preferred geometric placements of lateral exertions in occupational settings to lower muscular demands, potentially mitigating fatigue and associated musculoskeletal risks.

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Samantha L. Winter and John H. Challis

The muscle fiber force–length relationship has been explained in terms of the cross-bridge theory at the sarcomere level. In vivo, for a physiologically realistic range of joint motion, and therefore range of muscle fiber lengths, only part of the force–length curve may be used; that is, the section of the force– length curve expressed can vary. The purpose of this study was to assess the accuracy of a method for determining the expressed section of the force– length curve for biarticular muscles. A muscle model was used to simulate the triceps surae muscle group. Three model formulations were used so that the gastrocnemius operated over different portions of the force–length curve: the ascending limb, the plateau region, and the descending limb. Joint moment data were generated for a range of joint configurations and from this simulated data the region of the force– length relationship that the gastrocnemius muscle operated over was successfully reconstructed using the algorithm of Herzog and ter Keurs (1988a). Further simulations showed that the correct region of the force–length curve was accurately reconstructed even in the presence of random and systematic noise generated to reflect the effects of sampling errors, and incomplete muscle activation.

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Maria Grazia Benedetti, Lisa Berti, Antonio Frizziero, Donata Ferrarese and Sandro Giannini

Context:

Surface replacement of the hip is aimed especially at active patients, and it seems to achieve optimal functional results in a short time if associated with a tailored rehabilitation protocol.

Objective:

To assess the functional outcome in a group of active patients after hip resurfacing.

Design:

Clinical measurement and controlled laboratory study in a case series.

Setting:

Gait-analysis laboratory.

Participants:

8 patients and a control group of 10 subjects.

Interventions:

Patients treated with Birmingham hip-resurfacing system and a tailored rehabilitation protocol

Main Outcome Measures:

Clinical assessment (Harris Hip Score [HHS]) and instrumented gait analysis including muscular electromyographic assessment. Patients were assessed preoperatively and at 3 and 9 mo follow-up after surgery.

Results:

HHS showed a significant increase from the baseline to 3- (P = .008) and 9-month (P = .014) follow-up; 5 patients returned to sport. Gait pattern in the presented case series of patients improved substantially 3 mo postoperatively, and minimal further changes were present 9 months postoperatively. Residual abnormalities of time-distance and hip-kinematics parameters were consistent with a slow gait. A complete restoration of the muscle-activation pattern during gait was achieved.

Conclusion:

Hip resurfacing associated with a rehabilitation protocol based on the characteristics of the implant provides excellent clinical and functional outcome, especially for very active patients.

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Richard E. Hughes, James C. Bean and Don B. Chaffin

Concurrent activation of muscles on opposite sides of joints is a common phenomenon. In simple planar mechanical systems, it is easy to identify such an electromyographic pattern as co-contraction of agonist and antagonist muscles. In complex 3-D systems such as the lumbar spine, it is more difficult to precisely identify whether EMG recordings represent co-contraction. Qualitative definitions of antagonist muscles emphasize that their actions wholly oppose the action of the prime movers. The qualitative definition of antagonist muscles was used to formulate a mathematical requirement for there to be co-contraction of agonists and antagonists. It was shown that the definition of co-contraction implies muscle activity beyond what is required to maintain equilibrium. The method was illustrated by classifying EMG recordings made of the lumbar region musculature during tasks involving combined torso extension and axial twisting loads. The method, which identified muscle activity in excess of that required to maintain static equilibrium, could be used to identify conditions in which muscle activation is required for something other than merely maintaining moment equilibrium.