Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Adapted Human Biodynamics
The present study was undertaken to investigate the mechanism underlying the observation that the maximal voluntary strength of the two legs acting together or bilaterally in isometric leg extension was less than the summed unilateral (sum of the left and right legs tested separately) strength. Observations were made on this phenomenon under both isometric and concentric contraction conditions by testing young adult males performing unilateral and bilateral leg press contractions on a modified isokinetic dynamometer.
Electromyographical evidence indicated that there was a lesser activation of motor units in bilateral contractions, as compared to unilateral, under isometric conditions and at a low and high concentric velocity. To determine whether a particular type of motor unit was being activated to a lesser extent in bilateral contractions, two physiological parameters of unilateral and bilateral contractions were compared: the strength-velocity relation and fatigability. This investigative method was based on the known physiological differences between the motor unit types; namely fast-twitch (FT), type two motor units have a faster twitch contraction time, greater force output at high velocities of shortening and lesser resistance to fatigue than the slow-twitch (ST), type on units.
Results showed a greater relative decline in the strength of bilteral contractions as the velocity of contraction was increased through a range from 0°/s to 424°/s (0 to 7.40 radians/s). The bilateral to summed unilateral strength ratio (B/U ratio) decreased from 0.91 under isometric conditions to 0.51 at the highest test velocity. Lesser fatigability was found in the bilateral condition in a 100 consecutive concentric contraction fatigue test. These results provided complementary evidence for the conclusion that FT motor units were active to a lesser degree in bilateral contractions.
Vandervoort, Anthony A, "Motor unit activation in unilateral and bilateral muscle contraction in man" (1980). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 4026.