Single group repeated measures design.
To determine if the rate of transition between knee flexion and extension influences the subsequent concentric activation of the quadriceps and knee extension torque during reciprocal movements.
Preloading a muscle by stretching, a prior isometric or eccentric muscle action, or a prior movement controlled concentrically by the antagonist muscle group increases the maximal torque-generating capability of the agonist. We hypothesized that the rate of transition from the prior movement may be the critical factor that influences the degree of muscle facilitation and torque potentiation. Rapid reversal of antagonistic movements has been postulated as a potential facilitatory mechanism.
Knee extension torque and electromyographic (EMG) amplitude (dependent variables) from 2 of the vasti muscles were recorded while subjects (N = 20; 12 men, 8 women, mean age, 28.5+/-2.68 years) maximally activated their quadriceps at 3 constant angular velocities, 100 degrees/s, 200 degrees/s, and 300 degrees/s, and 2 preload conditions, SLOW and RAPID (independent variables). In the SLOW transition condition, subjects actively flexed their knee to 110 degrees from an extended position, paused in this position for 3 seconds, and then extended to 0 degrees. In the RAPID transition condition, the same movement from knee flexion to extension was performed without a pause.
Peak torque, the root-mean-square (RMS) average, peak (peak rectified and smoothed), and initial (100 milliseconds prior to torque onset) EMG amplitudes were all significantly greater during the RAPID transition condition. Peak torque decreased with increasing movement velocity. There were no interactions between the preload conditions and angular velocity on peak torque or the EMG amplitude variables. There was also no influence of velocity on the EMG amplitude variables.
The effect of preloading the quadriceps by prior concentric activation of the hamstrings is dependent on the rate of transition between the flexion and extension movements and is due primarily to neural facilitation.