Electromyographic activity in sprinting at speeds ranging from sub-maximal to supra-maximal

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1987 Jun;19(3):266-74.


Eleven male and eight female sprinters were filmed when running at five different speeds from sub-maximal to supra-maximal levels over a force platform. Supra-maximal running was performed by a towing system. The electromyographic (EMG) activity of 10 muscles was recorded telemetrically using surface electrodes. Pre-activity (PRA), activity during ground contact, immediate post-contact activity, and minimum activity were the major EMG parameters analyzed from two consecutive strides. Reproducibility of the variables used was rather high (r = 0.85 to 0.90 and coefficient of variation = 6.6 to 9.7%). The results demonstrated increases (P less than 0.001) in PRA and forces in the braking phase when running speed increased to supra-maximum. PRA correlated (P less than 0.01) with the average resultant force in the braking phase. Relative PRA (percentage of maximal value during ipsilateral contact) remained fairly constant (about 50 to 70%) at each speed. In the propulsion phase of contact, integrated EMG activity and forces increased (P less than 0.001) to maximal running, but at supra-maximal speed the forces decreased non-significantly. Post-contact activity and minimum activity increased (P less than 0.001) to maximal running but the supra-maximal running was characterized by lowered integrated EMG activities in these phases. Post-contact activity correlated (P less than 0.05) with average resultant force in the propulsion phase of the male subjects when running velocity increased. It was suggested that PRA increases are needed for increasing muscle stiffness to resist great impact forces at the beginning of contact during sprint running.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Electromyography*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscles / physiology
  • Running*
  • Telemetry