Physical Activity, Exercise Physiology, Movement
Muscular Fatigue Influences Motor Synergies During Push-Ups
(School of Public Health (UMD) Knes Master's Student)
Objectives: The conventional push-up is a popular exercise used by the American College of Sports Medicine to test participant muscular endurance. Push-ups require changes in the ground reaction forces generated at each point of contact with the ground (all four extremities) which are achieved through muscular contractions. Although this exercise is common, the motor control mechanisms used in this motion are relatively unknown. We investigated whether humans adjust individual limb forces (push-up synergies) as they reached volitional fatigue and evaluated the hypothesis that muscular fatigue influences synergistic actions between the forces produced at the hand contact points. Approach: Twenty-one volunteers participated in a single motion capture trial where they performed as many push-ups as possible, stopping at self-determined failure. Push-ups were completed to a controlled three-beat rhythm (down, up, hold plank) at a rate of 24 repetitions per minute. Participants were instructed to arrange themselves in a plank position with each extremity within the bounds of an embedded force platform and analog data was collected at a frequency of 1000Hz. An index of synergy, defined as correlations between vertical forces, was calculated for every downward and upward motion within the push-up trial. Findings: Between-arm vertical forces were positively correlated during upward and downward motion. Positive correlation indicates that limbs worked together to produce increases or decreases needed for center of mass movement. Upward limb synergy significantly (p ≤ 0.00) decreased as participants neared volitional fatigue while downward limb synergy did not significantly change (p = 0.77). Conclusions: We found that muscular fatigue affected the synergistic actions between limbs in upward motion but not in downward motion. After muscular fatigue, between arm synergy was reduced only during concentric muscle contractions. Public Health Significance: Better understanding the synergistic changes produced by fatigue could be used to evaluate or better understand pathologic gait or movement adaptations.