Comparison of muscle force, muscle endurance, and electromyogram activity during an expedition at high altitude

Int J Biometeorol. 1996 Sep;39(3):111-5. doi: 10.1007/BF01211221.


Handgrip force (HF), maximal pinch force (MF), muscle endurance (ME), and the median power frequency (MdPF) of the activity shown in the electromyogram (EMG) were studied at various altitudes in eight normal healthy subjects. MF and ME were measured between the index finger and thumb, and all measurements were obtained at altitudes ranging from 610 to 4860 m during an expedition in the Qinghai Plateau in China. With the change in altitude HF, ME, and MF showed no significant change. Compared to the MdPF at 2260 m on ascent, the MdPF at other altitudes showed a significant decrease (P < 0.01). Thus, we conclude that muscle performance (HF, MF, and ME) was not affected by the environment at high altitude. However, MdPF was affected and the mean MdPF at 610 m after the expedition did not recover to initial values of MdPF. We suggest these results may have been affected by fatigue and chronic exposure to the hypobaric hypoxic environment, since the members of the expedition party expressed feelings of sluggishness and fatigue after the expedition.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acclimatization / physiology
  • Adult
  • Altitude*
  • Electromyography
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology*
  • Muscle Fatigue / physiology
  • Physical Endurance / physiology