Purpose: The aim of this study was to investigate the segmental coordination of vertical jumps under fatigue of the knee extensor and flexor muscles.
Methods: Eleven healthy and active subjects performed maximal vertical jumps with and without fatigue, which was imposed by requesting the subjects to extend/flex their knees continuously in a weight machine, until they could not lift a load corresponding to approximately 50% of their body weight. Knee extensor and flexor isokinetic peak torques were also measured before and after fatigue. Video, ground reaction forces, and electromyographic data were collected simultaneously and used to provide several variables of the jumps.
Results: Fatiguing the knee flexor muscles did not reduce the height of the jumps or induce changes in the kinematic, kinetic, and electromyographic profiles. Knee extensor fatigue caused the subjects to adjust several variables of the movement, in which the peak joint angular velocity, peak joint net moment, and power around the knee were reduced and occurred earlier in comparison with the nonfatigued jumps. The electromyographic data analyses indicated that the countermovement jumps were performed similarly, i.e., a single strategy was used, irrespective of which muscle group (extensor or flexors) or the changes imposed on the muscle force-generating characteristics (fatigue or nonfatigue). The subjects executed the movements as if they scaled a robust template motor program, which guided the movement execution in all jump conditions. It was speculated that training programs designed to improve jump height performance should avoid severe fatigue levels, which may cause the subjects to learn and adopt a nonoptimal and nonspecific coordination solution.
Conclusion: It was suggested that the neural input used in the fatigued condition did not constitute an optimal solution and may have played a role in decreasing maximal jump height achievement.