Heating had no effect upon either force decline or slowing of relaxation during fatiguing contractions. The force-frequency relationship of the paralysed quadriceps muscle was shifted to the right after the muscle was heated. Despite this shift, however, the relationship still resembled that in muscles of non-paralysed individuals, probably due to the unexplained high twitch forces. These results indicate that reduced muscle temperature in spinal-cord-injured individuals may lead to an underestimation of the changes in contractile properties in terms of relaxation rate or the degree of fusion with low-frequency stimulation. In addition, the force-frequency relationship of paralysed muscles does not accurately reflect the magnitude of these changes, even when the muscle is heated, and should therefore be treated with caution.
METHODS: Contractile properties of the quadriceps muscle were studied in seven people with motor-complete SCI who participated in a FES-LCE training program. Subjects trained for 30 min, three times per week for 6 weeks. Contractile speed and fatigue characteristics of electrically stimulated isometric contractions were compared before and after 6 weeks of FES-LCE.
RESULTS: Fatigue resistance improved following FES-LCE training as indicated by the higher forces maintained in response to repetitive electrical stimulation. In contrast with an improved fatigue resistance, the maximal rate of force rise was unaffected, the speed of relaxation increased and the fusion of a 10 Hz force signal decreased. Furthermore, the force-frequency relationship shifted to the right at low stimulation frequencies, indicated by a decline in the ratio of 1 and 100 Hz force responses as well as the ratio of 10 and 100 Hz force responses.
CONCLUSION: FES-LCE training can change the physiological properties of the quadriceps muscle in people with SCI. Even after a short period of training, the stimulated muscles become more resistant to fatigue. Furthermore, the increased speed of relaxation and associated decreased fusion and altered force-frequency relationship following training may be related to adaptations in the calcium handling processes, which reflect an early response of long-term disused muscles.
The TE method was based on measurement of calcaneal displacement along the tibial axis during 15 degrees rotations of the ankle joint, from 30 degrees of dorsiflexion to 45 degrees of plantarflexion. The two methods gave similar estimations at rest varying from 4.3 to 5.6 cm. Using the COR method, the Achilles tendon moment arm during MVC was larger by 1-1.5 cm (22-27%, P < 0.01) than the respective resting value. In contrast, no difference (P > 0.05) was found between the resting and MVC moment arm estimations of the TE method. The disagreement in moment arms during MVC may be attributed to differences in the assumptions made between the two methods. The TE method has more limitations than the COR method and its estimations during MVC should be treated with caution. Resting Achilles tendon moment arm estimations of the COR method should be multiplied by 1.22-1.27 when maximal isometric plantarflexion joint moments, musculotendon forces and stresses are predicted using modelling
These reductions were similar to data previously obtained with younger rats (40 days old). However, the velocity data of the muscles which had recovered for 15 min after a long contraction showed a greater reduction in the mature rats. This difference between the two age groups together with a difference in the changes in the initial parts of the isometric force time curves suggest an age-dependent response of the fast-fatigable fibre population of these mixed muscles. In a separate series of experiments the underlying mechanism of the recovery from fatigue was studied in a group of young rats. Fatigue was induced with five long (15 s) contractions (each at 5 min intervals). The recovery of isometric force and power output was monitored with short contractions which indicated a plateau of recovery but the absolute values were still reduced after 60 min (85 and 71% of prefatigue values, respectively). Phosphocreatine concentration recovered rapidly, whereas the ATP concentration was still markedly reduced after 1 h of recovery. The time courses of recovery of inosine-5′-monophosphate (IMP) and lactate concentrations resembled those of force and power output. Thus it is possible that age-dependent differences in IMP and/or lactate production may play a role in fatigue and recovery from fatigue.
After a 5 min recovery period the sequence was repeated. Comparison was made between the fatigued and recovered state in each preparation in order to allow for any change in the preparation during the course of the experiment. After 15 s contraction the fatigued muscles showed a marked reduction in all parameters measured. In fatigued muscles the isometric force fell to 48 +/- 15% (mean +/- SD) and there was a decrease in maximum velocity of shortening to 66%. These changes in the force-velocity relationship were accompanied by slowing of relaxation so that the half time of relaxation nearly doubled. The consequence of these changes was that the maximum power output was reduced by a much greater extent than was the isometric force (75% vs. 52%). It is suggested that the changes in force-velocity characteristics reflect a reduction in cross-bridge cycling in fatigued muscle