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.
Richard E. Hughes, James C. Bean and Don B. Chaffin
Aaron Derouin and Jim R. Potvin
beneficial way, very few techniques are available in the literature to quantify how those modifications in lower-limb muscle activity influence rotational or translational stability of the knee. For example, the co-contraction index 6 – 11 does not consider the 3 important parameters in relation to a muscle
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.
Kevin R. Ford, Gregory D. Myer, Laura C. Schmitt, Timothy L. Uhl and Timothy E. Hewett
The purpose of this study was to identify alterations in preparatory muscle activation patterns across different drop heights in female athletes. Sixteen female high school volleyball players performed the drop vertical jump from three different drop heights. Surface electromyography of the quadriceps and hamstrings were collected during the movement trials. As the drop height increased, muscle activation of the quadriceps during preparatory phase also increased (p < .05). However, the hamstrings activation showed no similar increases relative to drop height. Female athletes appear to preferentially rely on increased quadriceps activation, without an increase in hamstrings activation, with increased plyometric intensity. The resultant decreased activation ratio of the hamstrings relative to quadriceps before landing may represent altered dynamic knee stability and may contribute to the increased risk of ACL injury in female athletes.
William P. Ebben
The purpose of this study was to evaluate differences in hamstring activation during lower body resistance training exercises. This study also sought to assess differences in hamstring-to-quadriceps muscle activation ratios and gender differences therein.
A randomized repeated measures design was used to compare six resistance training exercises that are commonly believed to train the hamstrings, including the squat, seated leg curl, stiff leg dead lift, single leg stiff leg dead lift, good morning, and Russian curl. Subjects included 34 college athletes. Outcome measures included the biceps femoris (H) and rectus femoris (Q) electromyography (EMG) and the H-to-Q EMG ratio, for each exercise.
Main effects were found for the H (P < 0.001) and Q (P < 0.001). Post hoc analysis identified the specific differences between exercises. In addition, main effects were found for the H-to-Q ratio when analyzed for all subjects (P < 0.001). Further analysis revealed that women achieved between 53.9 to 89.5% of the H-to-Q activation ratios of men, for the exercises assessed. In a separate analysis of strength matched women and men, women achieved between 35.9 to 76.0% of the H-to-Q ratios of men, for these exercises.
Hamstring resistance training exercises offer differing degrees of H and Q activation and ratios. Women compared with men, are less able to activate the hamstrings and/or more able to activate the quadriceps. Women may require disproportionately greater training for the hamstrings compared with the quadriceps.
Rupal Mehta, Marco Cannella, Sharon M. Henry, Susan Smith, Simon Giszter and Sheri P. Silfies
Trunk muscle timing impairment has been associated with nonspecific low back pain (NSLBP), but this finding has not been consistent. This study investigated trunk muscle timing in a subgroup of patients with NSLBP attributed to movement coordination impairment (MCI) and matched asymptomatic controls in response to a rapid arm-raising task. Twenty-one NSLBP subjects and 21 matched controls had arm motion and surface EMG data collected from seven bilateral trunk muscles. Muscle onset and offset relative to deltoid muscle activation and arm motion, duration of muscle burst and abdominal–extensor co-contraction time were derived. Trunk muscle onset and offset latencies, and burst and co-contraction durations were not different (p > .05) between groups. Patterns of trunk muscle activation and deactivation relative to arm motion were not different. Task performance was similar between groups. Trunk muscle timing does not appear to be an underlying impairment in the subgroup of NSLBP with MCI.
Yi-Ming Huang, Ya-Ju Chang, Miao-Ju Hsu, Chia-Ling Chen, Chia-Ying Fang and Alice May-Kuen Wong
The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether agonist muscle fatigue changed the coactivation time and the co-contraction magnitude of the agonist and antagonist muscle, and if the agonist muscle fatigue produced bias (constant error: CE) and inconsistency (variable error: VE) of the force. Subjects are 10 healthy people and one person with impaired proprioception. EMG and force for fast (0.19 ± 0.06 s) and slow (1.20 ± 0.44 s) targeted isometric dorsiflexions were recorded before and after fatigue of the dorsiflexors. The results revealed that the coactivation time increased after fatigue only in the slow contractions but the co-contraction magnitude did not change. The postfatigue increment of the CE was greater in the fast contractions than in the slow ones. We conclude that the postfatigue compensatory strategy can reduce the fatigue-induced bias. The change of muscles activation level after fatigue might be under the influence of the common drive. Impaired proprioception is a possible cause of the fatigue-related increase in bias and inconsistency.
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.
Steven Morrison and Karl M. Newell
The relation between limb stiffness and postural tremor in the upper arm was investigated during a pointing task. The task goal was to minimize the amount of motion (tremor) at the index finger under levels of increasing limb stiffness. This study investigated the influence of increasing limb stiffness on the pattern of intra- and interlimb dynamics. The frequency profile of the tremor for all limb segments across all conditions displayed two peaks, one between 2-4 Hz and another between 8-12 Hz. A third, higher frequency component (20-22 Hz) was present in the index finger. Increasing limb stiffness through voluntary co-contraction of antagonistic muscle pairs effectively constrained the segments of the upper limb to increasingly operate as a single biomechanical degree of freedom. Higher levels of limb stiffness typically led to an increase in the frequency and power of the 2-4 and 8-12 Hz peaks. There was also a decrease in the frequency of the 20-22 Hz component of finger tremor. The act of reducing the effective degrees of freedom in joint space through voluntarily stiffening of the upper limbs also resulted in decreased performance as determined by an increase in finger tremor. In the preferred, natural level of limb stiffness, specific intralimb segment relations were observed but there was no significant interlimb coupling. The intralimb segment correlations were characterized by compensatory (out of phase) coupling between the upper arm/forearm and hand/index finger segment pairs of each limb that were organized about the action of the wrist joint. Increasing the degree of limb stiffness led to a decrease in the level of intralimb coupling. The findings suggest that the most efficient mechanism for reducing tremor at the periphery is that of compensatory coupling between relevant intralimb segments with a low level of limb stiffness.
Prasanna Sritharan, Luke G. Perraton, Mario A. Munoz, Peter Pivonka and Adam L. Bryant
changes, such as quadriceps force deficits and activation failure, are common in individuals with ACLR. 9 , 10 Furthermore, adaptations have been observed, such as elevated levels of quadriceps–hamstrings muscle co-contractions to increase joint stiffness, 11 , 12 which may stabilize the knee and help