Fibre conduction velocity and fibre composition in human vastus lateralis

Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1988;57(6):767-71. doi: 10.1007/BF01076001.


The relationship between muscle fibre composition and fibre conduction velocity was investigated in 19 male track athletes, 12 sprinters and 7 distance runners, aged 20-24 years, using needle biopsy samples from vastus lateralis. Cross sectional areas of the fast twitch (FT) and slow twitch (ST) fibres were determined by histochemical analysis. The percentage of FT fibre areas ranged from 22.6 to 93.6%. Sprinters had a higher percentage of FT fibres than distance runners. Muscle fibre conduction velocity was measured with a surface electrode array placed along the muscle fibres, and calculated from the time delay between 2 myoelectric signals recorded during a maximal voluntary contraction. The conduction velocity ranged from 4.13 to 5.20 m.s-1. A linear correlation between conduction velocity and the relative area of FT fibres was statistically significant (r = 0.84, p less than 0.01). This correlation indicates that muscle fibre composition can be estimated from muscle fibre conduction velocity measured noninvasively with surface electrodes.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Electromyography
  • Humans
  • Leg
  • Male
  • Muscles / anatomy & histology
  • Muscles / innervation*
  • Nervous System Physiological Phenomena*
  • Neural Conduction*
  • Time Factors