Morning to evening changes in the electrical and mechanical properties of human soleus motor units activated by H reflex and M wave

  • Guette M
  • Gondin J
  • Martin A
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The aim of the present study was to compare the relative contribution of the soleus motor units (MUs) activated by H and M waves to the plantar-flexion torque in the morning and in the evening. Twelve healthy male subjects (physical education students) took part in this investigation. The electromechanical properties of the plantar flexor muscles were recorded at two different times of day: between 06:00 and 08:00 h and between 17:00 and 19:00 h. Plantar-flexion torque and concomitant electromyographic activity of soleus muscle were assessed under voluntary and evoked conditions. The results indicated a significant decrease in maximal voluntary muscle torque of triceps surae and associated soleus EMG in the evening as compared with the morning. The mean values of MVC ranged from 131.6+/-9.6 N m in the morning to 125.1+/-9.0 N m in the evening. Peak-to-peak values of soleus H (max) and M (max) potentials were comparable in the morning and in the evening (2.97 vs 3.18 mV and 7.95 vs 7.44 mV for H (max) and M (max), respectively). The H (max)/M (max) ratio was not modified between the two experimental test sessions (34.8 vs 41.3%). The peak amplitude of the twitch produced by the H (max) wave (Pt (H max)) decreased significantly. When estimating the mechanical contribution to (Pt (H max)) of the slowest and fastest-twitch MUs reflexively and directly activated, we observed that the contribution of the slowest MUs did not change while those of the fastest decreased significantly in the evening. To conclude, a weaker reflex twitch torque caused by higher fatigue state of the MUs directly activated by the M wave which accompanied H (max) in the evening may be regarded as a possible explanation of the weaker plantar-flexion torque production in the evening.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Neural stimulation
  • Plantar-flexion
  • Time-of-day effect

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  • Marie Guette

  • Julien Gondin

  • Alain Martin

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