Differences in myoelectric manifestations of fatigue in sprinters and long distance runners

A. Rainoldi, M. Gazzoni, G. Melchiorri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this study was to determine whether the rate of change of surface EMG variables during a constant force isometric fatiguing contraction (80% MVC, 30 s of duration) of vastus medialis obliquus (VMO) and vastus lateralis (VL) muscles is able to distinguish between nine sprinters and nine long distance runners. Signals were recorded with linear arrays of eight electrodes. Muscle fiber conduction velocity (CV), mean frequency (MNF) of EMG signal power spectrum and average rectified value (ARV) of the EMG signal were calculated both from the whole signal (global approach) and from motor unit action potentials (MUAP distribution approach) extracted from the signal. Results showed significant differences only in the MUAP distribution approach. For this approach, the rates of change of conduction velocity (CV) (both absolute and normalized with respect to the initial value) were found to be always greater in the sprinter (VMO: -0.012 ± 0.011 m s-2 and -0.25 ± 0.21%/s; VL: -0.014 ± 0.009 m s-2 and -0.27 ± 0.17%/s) than in the long distance runner group (VMO: -0.004 ± 0.006 m s-2 and -0.08 ± 0.14%/s; VL: 0.003 ± 0.012 m s-2 and 0.08 ± 0.26%/s) (VL: p = 0.016, VMO: p = 0.034). No differences were observed in the CV initial values and in rates of change of MNF, while MNF initial values recorded from the VMO were found to be greater (119.6 ± 25.1 Hz) in the sprinter group than in the long distance runner group (99.2 ± 12.1 Hz, p = 0.016). A correlation was found between initial values and rates of change of CV in the VMO (r = 0.61, p <0.01, N = 18, Spearman correlation coefficient). The consistency of these findings with the expected fiber type composition between sprinters and long distance runners and the identification of a set of candidated variables for the assessment of muscle adaptation during training and/or rehabilitation programs represent the main results of the study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)331-340
Number of pages10
JournalPhysiological Measurement
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2008


  • Fatigue
  • Fiber type distribution
  • MUAP distribution
  • Surface EMG

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics


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