EMG amplitude distribution changes over the upper trapezius muscle are similar in sustained and ramp contractions.
ABSTRACT To investigate whether global motor unit recruitment to compensate for muscle fatigue during sustained contraction and to regulate force increase during ramp contraction are controlled in similar manners in the upper trapezius muscle.
Fourteen subjects performed a 10-s ramp contraction from 0% to 90% of maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) and a 3-min sustained contraction at 25% MVC. Both contractions involved isometric shoulder elevation with a multi-channel surface electromyographical grid placed on the skin above the muscle. To evaluate the global muscle activation pattern, the changes in spatial amplitude distribution of the sustained and the ramp contraction were examined and compared.
In both contraction types, the upper part of the trapezius muscle was spatially non-uniform (inhomogeneous) activated. Throughout the sustained contraction, the amplitude distribution of the upper trapezius muscle became more similar to the amplitude distribution at higher force levels.
These findings support the hypothesis that global motor unit recruitment to compensate for muscle fatigue during a sustained contraction, and to regulate force increase during a ramp contraction is controlled in a similar manner. Consequently, they confirm fundamental principles of motor unit activation based on recordings of limited motor unit samples.