Relationship between muscle metabolic rate and muscle torque complexity during fatiguing intermittent isometric contractions in humans


To test the hypothesis that a system’s metabolic rate and the complexity of fluctuations in the output of that system are related, thirteen healthy participants performed intermittent isometric knee extensor contractions at intensities where a rise in metabolic rate would (40% maximal voluntary contraction, MVC) and would not (20% MVC) be expected. The contractions had a 60% duty factor (6 sec contraction, 4 sec rest) and were performed until task failure or for 30 min, whichever occurred sooner. Torque and surface EMG signals were sampled continuously. Complexity and fractal scaling of torque were quantified using approximate entropy (ApEn) and the detrended fluctuation analysis (DFA) $α$ scaling exponent. Muscle metabolic rate was determined using near-infrared spectroscopy. At 40% MVC, task failure occurred after (mean ± SD) 11.5 ± 5.2 min, whereas all participants completed 30 min of contractions at 20% MVC. Muscle metabolic rate increased significantly after 2 min at 40% MVC (2.70 ± 1.48 to 4.04 ± 1.23 %˙s-1, P < 0.001), but not at 20% MVC. Similarly, complexity decreased significantly at 40% MVC (ApEn, 0.53 ± 0.19 to 0.15 ± 0.09; DFA $α$, 1.37 ± 0.08 to 1.60 ± 0.09; both P < 0.001), but not at 20% MVC. The rates of change of torque complexity and muscle metabolic rate at 40% MVC were significantly correlated (ApEn, $h̊o$ = −0.63, P = 0.022; DFA, $o̊$ = 0.58, P = 0.037). This study demonstrated that an inverse relationship exists between muscle torque complexity and metabolic rate during high-intensity contractions.

Physiological Reports