Content » Vol 29, Issue 3

Original report

Force output and energy metabolism during neuromuscular electrical stimulation: a 31P-NMR study

G O Matheson, R J Dunlop, D C McKenzie, C F Smith, P S Allen
Division of Sports Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, CA 94305-5109, USA.
DOI: 10.2340/16501977199729175180


The purpose of this study was to determine the acute physiologic effects of two electrical stimulation protocols commonly used for muscle rehabilitation. Surface electrodes were used to provide 12 stimulations of the calf musculature. In protocol A the duty cycle was fixed at 1:1 (10-second stimulation: 10-second rest); for protocol B it was 1:5 (10-second stimulation: 50-second rest). We continuously recorded isometric plantarflexor force in six healthy male subjects during stimulation using a load cell connected to a foot pedal ergometer. Metabolic changes in the stimulated gastrocnemius muscle were monitored in the supine position using 31P-NMR spectroscopy (Phillips 1. 5 tesla NMR machine). Relative changes in phosphocreatine (PCr), inorganic phosphate (Pi), and intracellular pH (pHi) were obtained during stimulation and recovery, using a 1. 5 cm RF surface antenna. Over the 12 stimulations, protocol A produced a significantly (p < 0. 001), greater force decline (protocol A: 30. 4 +/- 1. 3%, protocol B: 13 +/- 0. 8%); a significantly (p < 0. 005), greater increase in Pi/PCr (protocol A: 210%, protocol B: 50%); and a significantly (p <0. 001), lower pHi (protocol A: 6. 8 +/- 0. 16, protocol B: 7. 03 +/- 0. 12). We conclude that the shorter duty cycle produces more fatigue throughout the stimulation period, possibly as a result of greater intracellular acidosis and reduced availability of the high energy phosphate PCr. The clinical application of this finding relates to the selection of a stimulation protocol that maximizes strength gains in atrophic vs healthy muscle.

Lay Abstract


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