Background: Muscle fatigue has high relevance in human performance yet little research has evaluated how it should be assessed.
Objective: To perform a pilot study to identify suitable methods of generating and assessing fatigue of the trunk flexor and extensor muscles.
Methods: Sixteen university rugby players (mean (SEM) age 21.9 (0.2) years) were recruited and subjected to four protocols (A, B, C, D), separated by a week to allow recovery, with peak torque being recorded during each test: A, isokinetic measurements before and after fatigue, with a 10 repetition isokinetic fatigue period; B, isokinetic measurements before and after fatigue with a 45 second isometric fatigue period; C, isometric measurements before and after fatigue with a 10 repetition isokinetic fatigue period; D, isometric measurements before and after fatigue with a 45 second isometric fatigue period. All were conducted during flexion and extension of the trunk on the Cybex Norm Isokinetic Dynamometer trunk flexion-extension unit.
Results: All subjects completed all four protocols. Fatigue induction appeared more effective in flexion than extension. Significant differences in mean peak torque before and after fatigue were seen in protocols A, B, and D in flexion and only in protocol D for extension. In flexion, protocol D produced the greatest fatigue, peak torque being 16.2% less after than before fatigue, suggesting greatest sensitivity.
Conclusions: Protocol D, which incorporates isometric testing and fatigue protocols, appears to be able to produce fatigue most effectively, and therefore may provide the most valid assessment of fatigue in the trunk flexor and extensor muscles.
- muscle fatigue
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Competing interests: none declared
Written consent from the subject has been obtained for publication of figure 1 in print and online.