A governing relationship for repetitive muscular contraction

J. C. Martin, N. A. Brown, F. C. Anderson, W. W. Spirduso

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36 Citations (Scopus)


During repetitive contractions, muscular work has been shown to exhibit complex relationships with muscle strain length, cycle frequency, and muscle shortening velocity. Those complex relationships make it difficult to predict muscular performance for any specific set of movement parameters. We hypothesized that the relationship of impulse with cyclic velocity (the product of shortening velocity and cycle frequency) would be independent of strain length and that impulse-cyclic velocity relationships for maximal cycling would be similar to those of in situ muscle performing repetitive contraction. Impulse and power were measured during maximal cycle ergometry with five cycle-crank lengths (120-220mm). Kinematic data were recorded to determine the relationship of pedal speed with joint angular velocity. Previously reported in situ data for rat plantaris were used to calculate values for impulse and cyclic velocity. Kinematic data indicated that pedal speed was highly correlated with joint angular velocity at the hip, knee, and ankle and was, therefore, considered a valid indicator of muscle shortening velocity. Cycling impulse-cyclic velocity relationships for each crank length were closely approximated by a rectangular hyperbola. Data for all crank lengths were also closely approximated by a single hyperbola, however, impulse produced on the 120mm cranks differed significantly from that on all other cranks. In situ impulse-cyclic velocity relationships exhibited similar characteristics to those of cycling. The convergence of the impulse-cyclic velocity relationships from most crank and strain lengths suggests that impulse-cyclic velocity represents a governing relationship for repetitive muscular contraction and thus a single equation can predict muscle performance for a wide range of functional activities. The similarity of characteristics exhibited by cycling and in situ muscle suggests that cycling can serve as a window though which to observe basic muscle function and that investigators can examine similar questions with in vivo and in situ models. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)969-974
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


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