Contribution of central vs. peripheral factors to the force loss induced by passive stretch of the human plantar flexors
American Physiology Society
Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science
School of Exercise and Health Sciences / Centre for Exercise and Sports Science Research
The purpose of the present research was to identify the contribution of central vs. peripheral factors to the force loss after passive muscle stretching. Thirteen men randomly performed both a 5-min constanttorque stretch of the plantar flexors on an isokinetic dynamometer and a resting condition on 2 separate days. The triceps surae electromyogram (EMG) was recorded simultaneously with plantar flexor isometric torque. Measures of central drive, including the EMG amplitude normalized to the muscle compound action potential amplitude (EMG/M), percent voluntary activation and first volitional wave amplitude, and measures of peripheral function, including the twitch peak torque, 20-to-80-Hz tetanic torque ratio and torque during 20-Hz stimulation preceded by a doublet, were taken before and immediately and 15 min after each condition. Peak torque (- 15.7%), EMG/M (- 8.2%), and both twitch (- 9.4%) and 20-Hz peak torques (- 11.5%) were reduced immediately after stretch but recovered by 15 min. There were strong correlations between the torque loss and the reductions in central drive parameters (r = 0.65- 0.93). Torque recovery was also strongly correlated with the recovery in EMG/M and percent voluntary activation (r = 0.77- 0.81). The moderate decreases in measures of peripheral function were not related to the torque loss or recovery. These results suggest that 1) central factors were strongly related to the torque reduction immediately after stretch and during torque recovery; and 2) the muscle's contractile capacity was moderately reduced, although these changes were not associated with the torque reduction, and changes in excitation-contraction coupling efficiency were not observed.