Differential responses in intramuscular pressure and EMG fatigue indicators during low- vs. high-level isometric contractions to fatigue

Acta Physiol Scand. 1997 Aug;160(4):353-61. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-201X.1997.00168.x.


This study investigated changes in intramuscular pressure (IMP) and surface electromyographic (EMG) parameters (mean frequency of the power spectrum, f(mean); and signal amplitude denoted as root mean square, RMS) during contractions to fatigue at 25 and 70% of maximal voluntary contraction (MVC). Parameters were recorded simultaneously from the vastus lateralis muscle during knee extension. A significant decrease in f(mean) occurred with time at both contraction levels; however, the rate of decline (slope) was greater at 70% MVC. RMS increased throughout the contractions at both levels, with the relative increase being significantly greater for 25% MVC. IMP increased during 25% MVC but did not change during the 70% MVC contraction. IMP at rest was significantly higher post-contractions than it was pre-contractions at 25% MVC (21.1 vs. 8.0 mmHg, P < 0.01) and 70% MVC (13.7 vs. 8.6 mmHg, P < 0.01). Consequently, post-contraction IMP was higher at 25% MVC than at 70% MVC (P < 0.01). IMP changes throughout the fatiguing contractions correlated negatively with f(mean) and positively with RMS at both MVC levels; however, these correlations were better at 25% MVC. The extent of intramuscular water accumulation is discussed as a major cause of the difference in IMP changes between 25% and 70% MVC. Significant differences in the rate of change for all parameters between high vs. low contraction levels may suggest a common mechanism governing changes in IMP and EMG fatigue indicators.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Electromyography*
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction / physiology*
  • Knee / physiology
  • Male
  • Muscle Fatigue / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Pressure