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Evidence of changes in load sharing during isometric elbow flexion with ramped torque

Abstract : This study aimed to: (1) test the repeatability of Supersonic Shear Imaging measures of muscle shear elastic modulus of four elbow flexor muscles during isometric elbow flexion with ramped torque; (2) determine the relationship between muscle shear elastic modulus and elbow torque for the four elbow flexor muscles, and (3) investigate changes in load sharing between synergist elbow flexor muscles with increases in elbow flexor torque. Ten subjects performed ten isometric elbow flexions consisting of linear torque ramps of 30-s from 0 to 40% of maximal voluntary contraction. The shear elastic modulus of each elbow flexor muscle (biceps brachii long head [BBLH], biceps brachii short head [BBSH], brachialis [BA], and brachoradialis [BR]) and of triceps brachii long head [TB] was measured twice with individual muscles recorded in separate trials in random order. A good repeatability of the shape of the changes in shear elastic modulus as a function of torque was found for each elbow flexor muscle (r-values: 0.85 to 0.94). Relationships between the shear elastic modulus and torque were best explained by a second order polynomial, except BA where a higher polynomial was required. Statistical analysis showed that BBSH and BBLH had an initial slow change at low torques followed by an increasing rate of increase in modulus with higher torques. In contrast, the BA shear elastic modulus increased rapidly at low forces, but plateaued at higher forces. These results suggest that changes in load sharing between synergist elbow flexors could partly explain the non-linear EMG-torque relationship classically reported for BB during isometric efforts.
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Killian Bouillard, Antoine Nordez, Paul Hodges, Christophe Cornu, François Hug. Evidence of changes in load sharing during isometric elbow flexion with ramped torque. Journal of Biomechanics, Elsevier, 2012, 45 (8), pp.1424-1429. ⟨10.1016/j.jbiomech.2012.02.020⟩. ⟨hal-03409845⟩



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