Electromyography and clinical neurophysiology vol:31 issue:7 pages:433-45
This paper examines the torque responses and EMG activity levels in four muscles acting at the elbow joint during different combinations of one- and two- degree of freedom isometric torque production (single and dual tasks, respectively). Flexor and supinator/pronator torques and surface EMG signals from m. biceps brachii, m. brachialis, m. brachioradialis and m. triceps brachii were measured in 16 male subjects while they performed maximal effort isometric contractions of pure flexion, pure supination, pure pronation, combined flexion and supination and combined flexion and pronation. In the single tasks, the torque responses were consistent with task requirements, but the dual task results were surprising in that flexor torque levels were reduced as compared to pure flexion, while supinator/pronator torque levels were as high or higher than in pure supination or pronation. Muscle activity levels varied with task, and could not always explain the differences observed in torque responses. These data are discussed within the framework of subpopulations of task-specific motor units within each muscle. The implications of such task-specific muscle units are related to musculoskeletal modelling and previous EMG - torque relationships found at the elbow.