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Reflex Inhibition In Human Biceps Brachii Decreases With Practice Of A Fatiguing Contraction.

Z. Riley, S. Baudry, R. Enoka
Published 2008 · Medicine, Psychology

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The purpose of the study was to examine the influence of practice on time to failure of a submaximal contraction with the elbow flexor muscles and on reflex inhibition from brachioradialis afferents onto biceps brachii motor neurons. Fifteen subjects practiced sustaining an isometric contraction (20% of maximum) with the elbow flexors until failure. Spike-triggered stimulation was used to assess the influence of radial nerve stimulation on the discharge of single motor units in biceps brachii before and after three practice sessions. Time to failure increased from 760 +/- 333 s in session 1 to 1,103 +/- 415 s in session 3 (P < 0.03) and was accompanied by a slower rate of increase in electromyographic (EMG) activity of the short head of biceps brachii (P < 0.05). Stimulation of the radial nerve prolonged the interspike interval before practice (n = 56; 7.2 +/- 6.8 ms; P < 0.001), and this effect was reduced after practice (n = 62; 2.3 +/- 3.6 ms; P < 0.01). The reduction was greater for motor units in the short head of biceps brachii than for those in the long head (P < 0.05) and was associated with a slower rate of increase in EMG (r = 0.57, P = 0.03). The decrease in reflex inhibition was the main predictor of the increase in time to failure (r(2) = 0.60, P = 0.001). These results demonstrate that practice reduced an antagonistic inhibition and improved the ability of the muscles to perform a synergistic action of elbow flexion.
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