The effects of length on fatigue and twitch potentiation in human skeletal muscle

Clin Physiol. 2000 Nov;20(6):474-82. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2281.2000.00283.x.


Fatigue is the decrease in active force that happens after repeated muscle stimulation, and post tetanic twitch potentiation (PTP) is the increase in twitch force observed after repeated muscle stimulation. This study investigated the effects of length on the interaction between fatigue and PTP, as these two forms of force regulation are length-dependent and may coexist. A total number of 14 subjects were tested in 3 days, in which fatigue and PTP were induced in the knee extensor muscles in three different knee angles (30 degrees, 60 degrees and 90 degrees; full extension = 0 degree). PTP was evaluated in rested and fatigued muscles with twitch contractions elicited before and after 10 s maximal voluntary contraction (MVC), and fatigue was evaluated with nine 50 Hz electrically elicited contractions (5 s duration, 5 s interval between contractions). Fatigue was length-dependent, with force values that were (mean +/- SEM) 59 +/- 5, 56 +/- 3 and 38 +/- 1% of maximal force at 90 degrees, 60 degrees and 30 degrees, respectively. PTP was also length-dependent. Rested muscles showed PTP of 39 +/- 4, 47 +/- 2 and 68 +/- 5% at 90 degrees, 60 degrees and 30 degrees, respectively. Fatigued muscles showed PTP of 44 +/- 3, 55 +/- 6 and 68 +/- 5%, at 90 degrees, 60 degrees and 30 degrees, respectively. This study shows that fatigue and PTP may represent independent mechanisms, as they regulate force in opposite directions and are both enhanced in short muscle lengths.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / physiology
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology*
  • Muscle Fatigue / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Torque