Knee angle-dependent oxygen consumption during isometric contractions of the knee extensors determined with near-infrared spectroscopy


Fatigue resistance of knee extensor muscles is higher during voluntary isometric contractions at short compared with longer muscle lengths. In the present study we hypothesized that this would be due to lower energy consumption, at short muscle lengths. Ten healthy male subjects performed isometric contractions with the knee extensor muscles at a 30, 60, and 90° knee angle (full extension = 0°). At each angle, muscle oxygen consumption (mV̇O2) of the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, and vastus medialis muscle was obtained with near-infrared spectroscopy. mV̇O 2 was measured during maximal isometric contractions and during contractions at 10, 30, and 50% of maximal torque capacity. During all contractions, blood flow to the muscle was occluded with a pressure cuff (450 mmHg). mV̇O2 significantly (P < 0.05) increased with torque and at all torque levels, and for each of the three muscles mV̇O2 was significantly lower at 30° compared with 60° and 90° and mV̇O2 was similar (P > 0.05) at 60° and 90°. Across all torque levels, average (± SD) mV̇O2 at the 30° angle for vastus medialis, rectus femoris, and vastus lateralis, respectively, was 70.0 ± 10.4, 72.2 ± 12.7, and 75.9 ± 8.0% of the average mV̇O2 obtained for each torque at 60 and 90°. In conclusion, oxygen consumption of the knee extensors was significantly lower during isometric contractions at the 30° than at the 60° and 90° knee angle, which probably contributes to the previously reported longer duration of sustained isometric contractions at relatively short muscle lengths. Copyright © 2005 the American Physiological Society.

Journal of Applied Physiology