Recent data suggest that the potentiated twitch is a more sensitive index of contractile fatigue than is the unpotentiated twitch. We hypothesized that after a potentially fatiguing load, the fall in twitch amplitude of the potentiated twitch would be significantly greater than that of an unpotentiated twitch. We compared the response of the potentiated and unpotentiated twitches to a series of potentially fatiguing loads using magnetic stimulation of the femoral nerve in 10 healthy subjects. The baseline unpotentiated quadriceps twitch force (TwQu), potentiated quadriceps twitch force (TwQp), and maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) were 129 plus minus 6 N, 198 plus minus 6 N, and 622 plus minus 25 N, respectively. During a fatigue protocol that was designed to induce a spectrum of fatigue from mild to marked, the percent fall in quadriceps twitch force was significantly greater for the potentiated method than for the unpotentiated method at all levels of fatigue (P <.005). The within-subject within-day coefficient of variation was 7.5 plus minus 0.5% for TwQu and 5.6 plus minus 0.9% for TwQp. Thus, TwQp is reproducible and is superior to TwQu for detecting early muscle fatigue.
Copyright 2002 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.