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The influence of preceding activity and muscle length on voluntary and electrically evoked contractions

Debenham, Mathew I.B., Power, Geoffrey A.
Applied physiology, nutrition and metabolism 2019 v.44 no.3 pp. 301-308
males, muscle contraction, muscle strength, muscles, torque
Muscle length and preceding activity independently influence rate of torque development (RTD) and electromechanical delay (EMD), but it is unclear whether these parameters interact to optimize RTD and EMD. The purpose of this study was to determine the influence of muscle length and preceding activity on RTD and EMD during voluntary and electrically stimulated (e-stim) contractions. Participants (n = 17, males, 24 ± 3 years) performed isometric knee extensions on a dynamometer. Explosive maximal contractions were performed at 2 knee angles (35° and 100° referenced to a 0° straight leg) without preceding activity (unloaded, UNL) and with preceding activities of 20%, 40%, 60%, and 80% of maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) torque. Absolute and normalized voluntary RTD were slowed with preceding activities ≥40% MVC for long muscle lengths and all preceding activities for short muscle lengths compared with UNL (p < 0.001). Absolute and normalized e-stim RTD were slower with preceding activities ≥40% MVC compared with UNL (p < 0.001) for both muscle lengths. Normalized RTD was faster at short muscle lengths than at long muscle lengths (p < 0.001) for e-stim (∼50%) and voluntary (∼32%) UNL contractions, but this effect was not present for absolute RTD. Muscle length did not affect EMD (p > 0.05). EMD was shorter at 80% MVC compared with UNL (∼35%; p < 0.001) for both muscle lengths during voluntary but not e-stim contractions. While RTD is limited by preceding activity at both muscle lengths, long muscle lengths require greater preceding activity to limit RTD than short muscle lengths, which indicates long muscle lengths may offer a “protective effect” for RTD against preceding activity.