The effects of triceps surae fatigue on the torque and electromyographic parameters in athletes compared with non-athletes

J Back Musculoskelet Rehabil. 2012;25(2):95-101. doi: 10.3233/BMR-2012-0316.


Background and objectives: The common description of muscular fatigue is the failure of muscle in maintaining a target force. Even in sustained contraction, when muscle force is held at a stable level, physiological, biomechanical and electromyographic changes can occur. The purpose of this study is to compare the effects of triceps surae (TS) fatigue on the torque, falling slope and electromyographic (EMG) parameters between athletes and non-athletes.

Materials and methods: Nineteen healthy women (10 non-athletes and 9 basketball players) participated in this study. After warm-up, subjects performed one maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) followed by fatigue test including sustained maximum isometric contraction of TS until the peak torque (PT) decreased to 50% of maximum value. Immediately after the test, subjects were asked to perform one MVC; then, root mean square (RMS), median frequency (MDF), median frequency slope (MDF slope), PT, falling slope (FSL) and the amount of pain were measured.

Results: In both groups shift of MDF slope to negative values, significant decrease of MDF and RMS occurred at the end of the fatigue test (P < 0.05). Immediately after the test, PT decreased significantly in both groups (P < 0.05), however, decrease of FSL was significant in non-athletes (P < 0.05) but not in athletes. After fatigue test, increase in Pain was significant in both groups (P < 0.05). Before fatigue test, at the end, and immediately after the test, MDF of non-athletes was more than athletes. There was no significant difference in RMS between the two groups.

Conclusion: Our findings suggest that TS fatigue affects EMG parameters, PT and pain in athletes and non-athletes similarly.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Athletes*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Electromyography*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction / physiology
  • Leg
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Muscle Fatigue / physiology*
  • Muscle Strength Dynamometer
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Torque*