Single motor unit and fiber action potentials during fatigue

T. G. Sandercock, J. A. Faulkner, J. W. Albers, P. H. Abbrecht

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89 Scopus citations


Muscle fatigue is defined as a loss of tension development during constant stimulation. Although the relationship is not well documented, muscle fatigue has been inferred from electromyogram (EMG) signals. The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between the amplitude and duration of single motor unit action potentials (MUAPs) and the loss of tension development (fatigue) in the medial gastrocnemius muscles of cats. Single motor units were fatigued by continuous stimulation at 10 or 80 Hz or with trains of 40-Hz stimuli. When motor units were stimulated at 10 Hz and with trains at 40 Hz (low frequency), tension declined and remained depressed during recovery. The changes in the MUAP correlated poorly with changes in tension. During and after stimulation at 80 Hz (high frequency), changes in the amplitude and duration of MUAPs correlated highly with changes in tension development. Since the EMG signal is dependent on a summation and cancellation of individual MUAPs, the EMG provides a reasonable estimate of high-frequency fatigue but an unreliable measure of low-frequency fatigue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1073-1079
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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