During and following high-load fatiguing voluntary contractions, the force response of skeletal muscle to electrical stimulation is altered so that the frequency-force curve is moved to the right. Fatiguing contractions also result in a shift to the left of the electromyographic (EMG) power spectrum. In the quadriceps muscle and the diaphragm of normal subjects the change in the force response to electrical stimulation has been correlated with the EMG changes. After repeated submaximal contractions in the quadriceps and diaphragm, the forces produced by electrical stimulation at low frequencies were reduced, indicating low-frequency fatigue. This type of fatigue persisted for several hours but did not result in any change in the EMG high-to-low ratio. Low-frequency fatigue is probably an important aspect of the failure of skeletal muscle to generate adequate force, and the EMG high-to-low ratio may not recognize this type of fatigue.
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