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Neuromuscular performance in voluntary bilateral and unilateral contraction and during electrical stimulation in men at different ages.

  • Häkkinen, K
  • Pastinen, U M
  • Karsikas, R
  • Linnamo, V
Published Article
European journal of applied physiology and occupational physiology
Publication Date
Jan 01, 1995
PMID: 7556124


A group of 33 men divided into three different age groups, M30 years (n = 11), M50 years (n = 12) and M70 years (n = 10) volunteered as subjects for examination of their maximal voluntary isometric bilateral and unilateral forces and force-time curves of the knee extensor muscle group as well as electromyogram activity of the vastus lateralis, vastus medialis and rectus femoris muscles of the right and/or left leg contractions. Electrical stimulation (ES) of 50 Hz was also given by two surface tin electrodes for each subject and each leg separately with the maximal tolerable intensity for recording the isometric force evoked. The maximal force produced by the voluntary isometric unilateral knee extension combined with ES was also measured. Maximal voluntary bilateral force of 1142 (SD 82) N in M30 was greater (P < 0.001) and the force of 1094 (SD 228) N in M50 was also greater (P < 0.05) than that of 962 (SD 70) N recorded for M70. The shapes of the isometric force-time curves, especially in absolute values, differed also among the groups so that the force produced during the early positions of the curve were in M30 greater (P < 0.05-0.001) than the force produced M50 and in M70. Neither the maximal voluntary bilateral force per the summed unilateral force nor the average integrated EMG between the bilateral and unilateral conditions differed significantly from each other either in M30, M50 or in M70. The force produced by pure ES was significantly greater in M30 (P < 0.05) than in M50 and M70, but the latter two groups were not significantly different. When ES was combined with the voluntary contractions, the absolute force values declined (P < 0.05-0.001) with increasing age similarly to those forces produced by the voluntary contractions alone. The present results suggest that increasing age results in great decreases both in the maximal voluntary strength and explosive force characteristics of the neuromuscular system but no bilateral deficit may necessarily be observed either in neural activation or in force production in a simple single joint isometric force production task of the knee extensors.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)


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