Signal characteristics of EMG during fatigue

Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1977 Sep 16;37(2):111-21. doi: 10.1007/BF00421697.


Electromyographic (EMG) activity of m. rectus femoris muscle was registered from young male and female subjects during maintained isometric knee extension at 60% of maximal voluntary contraction. The following EMG parameters were analyzed for the entire fatigue time: integrated EMG (IEMG), averaged motor unit potential (AMUP) and power spectral density function (PSDF). The results indicated a slight but continuous rise of IEMG during the fatigue period. AMUP showed sensitivity to fatigue with increase in amplitude, rise time, and number of spikes counted. PSDF was also easily affected by fatigue so that the total power density curve was shifted towards lower frequencies with a high frequency decay. The mean power frequency decreased linearily as a function of fatigue time. The findings suggest that in addition to natural recruitment of new motor units the fatigue is characterized by marked reduction in the conduction velocities of action potential along the used muscle fibers.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Electromyography
  • Fatigue / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Membrane Potentials
  • Muscle Contraction*
  • Muscles / physiopathology*