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Joanne N. Hodder, Tova E. Plashkes, Regan A. Franklin, Heather K. Hickey and Monica R. Maly

Coactivation of the knee extensors and flexors increases knee joint contact forces, which may lead to degradation of the articular surfaces. This study investigated the effect of neuromuscular fatigue induced by submaximal, repetitive, dynamic contractions on coactivation of knee musculature in young and middle-aged women. Data from 10 young women (24.6 ± 1.8 years) and 8 middle-aged women (55.4 ± 4.2 years) were analyzed. Measures included peak knee extension and flexion torques and the average amplitude of surface electromyography of rectus femoris and biceps femoris. Coactivation ratios were calculated from these activations. To induce fatigue, participants completed up to ten sets of 50 concentric knee extension and flexion contractions at 60°/s. A two-factor analysis of variance was used to determine the effect of age and fatigue. The young group showed higher peak torque compared with the middle-aged group (P < .001). During flexion, biceps femoris activity increased after fatigue when both groups were considered together (P = .018). During extension, biceps femoris activity was higher in the middle-aged than young group (P = .043). Middle-aged women exhibited a trend for greater coactivation during knee extension compared with young women (P = .066). This coactivation likely contributed to extension torque decrements in middle-aged women.

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Jennifer Di Domizio, Jeremy P.M. Mogk and Peter J. Keir

Wrist splints are commonly prescribed to limit wrist motion and provide support at night and during inactive periods but are often used in the workplace. In theory, splinting the wrist should reduce wrist extensor muscle activity by stabilizing the joint and reducing the need for co-contraction to maintain posture. Ten healthy volunteers underwent a series of 24 10-s gripping trials with surface electromyography on 6 forearm muscles. Trials were randomized between splinted and nonsplinted conditions with three wrist postures (30° flexion, neutral, and 30° extension) and four grip efforts. Custom-made Plexiglas splints were taped to the dorsum of the hand and wrist. It was found that when simply holding the dynamometer, use of a splint led to a small (<1% MVE) but significant reduction in activity for all flexor muscles and extensor carpi radialis (all activity <4% maximum). At maximal grip, extensor muscle activity was significantly increased with the splints by 7.9–23.9% MVE. These data indicate that splinting at low-to-moderate grip forces may act to support the wrist against external loading, but appears counterproductive when exerting maximal forces. Wrist bracing should be limited to periods of no to light activity and avoided during tasks that require heavy efforts.

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Kohei Watanabe, Motoki Kouzaki and Toshio Moritani

In some muscles, nonuniform surface electromyography (EMG) responses have been demonstrated within a muscle, meaning that the electrode location could be critical in the results of surface EMG. The current study investigated possible region-specific EMG responses within the human biceps femoris (BF) muscle. Surface EMG was recorded from various regions along the longitudinal axis of the BF muscle with 20 electrodes. Ten healthy men performed maximal isometric contractions of hip extension and knee flexion, which involve the BF muscle. The ratio of the EMG amplitude between hip extension and knee flexion tasks (HE/KF) was calculated and compared among the regions. There were no significant differences in HE/KF among the regions along the BF muscle (P > .05). This suggests that the entire superficial region of the BF muscle is equally regulated in the 2 different tasks. We suggest that the electrode location is not critical in estimating the activation properties and/or functional role of the superficial region, which corresponds with approximately 50% of the muscle length of the BF muscle, using surface EMG during maximal contraction.

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Max J. Kurz, Joan E. Deffeyes, David J. Arpin, Gregory M. Karst and Wayne A. Stuberg

The purpose of this investigation was to evaluate the effect of a lower body positive pressure support system on the joint kinematics and activity of the lower extremity antigravity musculature of adults and children during walking. Adults (age = 25 ± 4 years) and children (age = 13 ± 2 years) walked at a preferred speed and a speed that was based on the Froude number, while 0–80% of their body weight was supported. Electrogoniometers were used to monitor knee and ankle joint kinematics. Surface electromyography was used to quantify the magnitude of the vastus lateralis and gastrocnemius muscle activity. There were three key findings: (1) The lower extremity joint angles and activity of the lower extremity antigravity muscles of children did not differ from those of adults. (2) The magnitude of the changes in the lower extremity joint motion and antigravity muscle activity was dependent upon an interaction between body weight support and walking speed. (3) Lower body positive pressure support resulted in reduced activation of the antigravity musculature, and reduced range of motion of the knee and ankle joints.

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Gertjan J.C. Ettema, Emma Taylor, J. David North and Vaughan Kippers

This study’s aim was to identify the effect of oscillation of torques in isometric tasks under identical mechanical conditions on the muscle synergies used. It was hypothesized that bi-functional muscles would play a lesser role in torque oscillation, because they would also generate an undesired oscillation. Thus, changes in muscle synergies were expected as a consequence of oscillation in torque generation. The effect of the trajectory of torque generation was investigated in dual-degrees-of-freedom submaximal isometric oscillation torque tasks at the elbow. The torques were flexion-extension and supination-pronation. Oscillation torques were compared with static torque generations at four torque positions during oscillation. Muscle activity was determined with surface electromyography. Compared with the static torque tasks, the oscillation tasks showed an overall increased muscle activity. The oscillation tasks, however, showed similar activity patterns and muscle synergies compared to the static composite tasks. It was found that the motor system is well able to control different orthogonal combinations of slow torque oscillations and constant torques by employing a single oscillating muscle synergy.

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Mostafa Yaghoubi, Mohamad Mahdi Esfehani, Hossein Asghar Hosseini, Yaser Alikhajeh and Sarah P. Shultz

The aim of this study was to compare muscle activity patterns between inexperienced and experienced water polo players while taking an overhead shot. The study was carried out with a group of 12 water polo players and an inexperienced group of 10 healthy participants. Signals were recorded by surface electromyography from six different muscles. The average and standard deviation of the normalized electrical activity, time to peak, time broadness, and muscle sequencing during the overhead shot were determined for each muscle in both groups and compared with each other. In water polo players, the normalized electrical activities of triceps brachii, pectoralis major, and wrist flexors were greater than other muscles, while in the inexperienced group the triceps brachii specifically played an important role. There was minimal activation of the middle deltoid and biceps brachii in water polo players. Increased times to peak and time broadness of muscles were found in the inexperienced group compared to experienced water polo players; this difference may be explained by different neuromuscular proprioception. Only experienced water polo players activated the observed muscles in a specific sequence, from proximal to distal. Therefore, coaches should emphasize smooth and quick transitions from proximal to distal segments, with less importance placed on individual muscle strengthening.

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Sofia I. Lampropoulou and Alexander V. Nowicky

The purported ergogenic actions of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) applied to motor cortex (M1) on force production and perception of effort were investigated using a 10-item numerical rating scale (0–10 NRS) in nonfatiguing bouts of a force-matching task utilizing isometric elbow flexion. Using a crossover design, 12 healthy volunteers received sham, anodal, and cathodal tDCS randomly for 10 min (1.5 mA, 62 μA/cm2) to the left M1 in a double-blind manner. Corticospinal excitability changes were also monitored using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) with surface electromyography (sEMG) to monitor both motor evoked potentials (MEPs) and force-EMG from right m. biceps brachii and m. brachioradialis brachii. No significant differences between the verum and sham stimulation were obtained for elbow flexion maximum voluntary force, perception of effort, or sEMG. There were also no significant differences in MEP changes for the types of tDCS, which is consistent with reports that tDCS excitability effects are diminished during ongoing cognitive and motor activities.

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Priyanka Banerjee, Stephen H.M Brown, Samuel J. Howarth and Stuart M. McGill

The ProFitter 3-D Cross Trainer is a labile surface device used in the clinic and claimed to train spine stability. The purpose of this study was to quantify the spine mechanics (compression and shear forces and stability), together with muscle activation mechanics (surface electromyography) of the torso and hip, during three ProFitter exercises. Trunk muscle activity was relatively low while exercising on the device (<25%MVC). Gluteus medius activity was phasic with the horizontal sliding position, especially for an experienced participant. Sufficient spinal stability was achieved in all three exercise conditions. Peak spinal compression values were below 3400 N (maximum 3188 N) and peak shear values were correspondingly low (under 500 N). The exercises challenge whole-body dynamic balance while producing very conservative spine loads. The motion simultaneously integrates hip and torso muscles in a way that appears to ensure stabilizing motor patterns in the spine. This information will assist with clinical decision making about the utility of the device and exercise technique in rehabilitation and training programs.

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Taija Finni and Sulin Cheng

The positions of EMG electrodes over the knee extensor muscles were examined in 19 healthy men using MR images; electrodes were placed according to the SENIAM (surface electromyography for non-invasive assessment of muscles) guidelines. From axial images, the medial and lateral borders of the muscles were identified, and the arc length of the muscle surface was measured. The electrode location was expressed as a percentage value from the muscle’s medial border. EMGs were recorded during isometric maximal contraction, squat jumps, and countermovement jumps and analyzed for cross-correlation. The results showed that variations in lateral positioning were greatest in vastus medialis (47% SD 11) and rectus femoris (68% SD 15). In vastus lateralis, the electrode was usually placed close to the rectus femoris (19% SD 6). The peak cross-correlation coefficient varied between 0.15 and 0.68, but was not associated with electrode location. It is recommended that careful consideration is given to the medial-lateral positioning of the vastus lateralis electrodes especially, so that the electrodes are positioned over the mid-muscle rather than in close proximity to rectus femoris.

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Hiroko Tanabe, Keisuke Fujii and Motoki Kouzaki

We aimed to investigate joint coordination of lower limbs in dancers during tiptoe standing and the relationship between joint coordination and muscle coactivation. Seven female ballet dancers performed tiptoe standing with six leg positions (fi e classical dance positions and one modern dance position) for 10 s. The kinematic data of the metatarsophalangeal (MP), ankle, knee, and hip joints was collected, and surface electromyography (EMG) of over 13 lower limb muscles was conducted. Principal component analysis was performed to determine joint coordination. MP–ankle and ankle–knee had in-phase coordination, whereas knee–hip showed anti-phase coordination in the sagittal plane. In addition, most EMG–EMG coherence around the MP and ankle joints was significant up to 50 Hz when these two joints swayed with in-phase. This suggests that different joint coordination patterns are associated with neural processing related to different muscle coactivation patterns. In conclusion, ballet dancers showed in-phase coordination from the MP to knee joints, which was associated with muscle coactivation to a higher frequency domain (up to 50 Hz) in comparison with anti-phase coordination.