Changes in muscle activity and kinematics of highly trained cyclists during fatigue
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Up to 85% of cyclists experience repetitive strain injuries (RSI's). During long bouts of repetitive tasks, muscle fatigue may cause mal-alignments in kinematics, having cumulative effects, leading to an RSI. Purpose: The study's purpose was to examine how changes in localized muscle fatigue relate to changes in movement kinematics in highly trained cyclists throughout a full fatigue protocol. Methods: Seven highly trained cyclists participated in a 2 session experiment. Session 1 included a VO2 max test and familiarization trial and Session 2 was the fatigue protocol. Kinematic angles measured were trunk lean, hip, knee, ankle, and knee splay angle. Mean angle (MA) and range of motion (ROM) was calculated for each revolution thought the trial. Muscles monitored were the quadriceps, hamstring, gastrocnemius, and tibialis anterior. EMG median frequency (MDF) for each muscle was calculated for each revolution by averaging MDF for the two halves of each revolution. Cross-correlation analysis was done on MDF and MA data and MDF and ROM data. Results: All subjects exhibited increases in trunk lean and decreases in ankle angle. Non-monotonic changes were observed in trunk lean, ankle, knee splay angle, and among ROM results for all 5 angles. A 1-tailed T-tests for all subjects, revealed that HAM (p = 0.020) and GAS (p = 0.018) exhibited significant muscle fatigue. One-tailed T-tests yielded significantly negative cross-correlation time lags [Greek small letter tau] for trunk lean MA, ROM, and hip MA. Conclusions: Non-monotonic changes are present in kinematics and MDF. Therefore pre vs. post experimental designs cannot quantify fatigue processes. Shifts in trunk lean MA, ROM and hip MA are significantly correlated with preceding decreasing shifts of MDF (indicative of onset of fatigue).