Reduced plantarflexor specific torque in the elderly is associated with a lower activation capacity

CI Morse, JM Thom, MG Davis, KR Fox, KM Birch, MV Narici

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

    126 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Previous studies have reported a decrease in muscle torque per cross-sectional area in old age. This investigation aimed at determining the influence of agonists muscle activation and antagonists co-activation on the specific torque of the plantarflexors (PF) in recreationally active elderly males (EM) and, for comparison, in young men (YM). Twenty-one EM, aged 70-82 years, and 14 YM, aged 19-35 years, performed isometric maximum voluntary contractions (MVC). Activation was assessed by comparing the amplitude of interpolated supramaximal twitch doublets at MVC, with post-tetanic doublet peak torque. Co-activation of the tibialis anterior (TA) was evaluated as the ratio of TA-integrated EMG (IEMG) activity during PF MVC compared to TA IEMG during maximal voluntary dorsiflexion. Triceps surae muscle volume (VOL) was assessed using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and PF peak torque was normalised to VOL (PT/VOL) since the later approximates physiological cross-sectional area (CSA) more closely than anatomical CSA. Also, physical activity level, assessed by accelerometry, was significantly lower (21%) in the elderly males. In comparison to the YM group, a greater difference in PT (39%) than VOL (19%) was found in the EM group. PT/VOL and activation capacity were respectively lower by 25% and 21% in EM compared to YM, whereas co-activation was not significantly different. In EM PT/VOL correlated with activation (R2=0.31, P
    Translated title of the contributionReduced plantarflexor specific torque in the elderly is associated with a lower activation capacity
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)219 - 226
    Number of pages8
    JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
    Volume92 (1-2)
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2004

    Bibliographical note

    Publisher: Springer

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