Utilization of muscle elasticity in exercise

-16. 1.73. 1.33. -23. 18. 29. +61. (0.59). (0.88). AZ. 0.53. 0.56. +6 1.19. 1.43. +20 459. 598 .... CAVAGNA, G. A., F. P. SAIBENE, AND R. MARGARIA. Mechanical.
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401. 32, No. OURNAL

OF APPLIED

4, April

PHYSIOLOGY

1972.

Printed

in U.S.A.

Utilization H. THYS,

of muscle T.

FARAGGIANA,

elasticity AND

R.

in exercise

MARGARIA

Institute of Human Physiology, University of Milan, Milan, Italy

AND R. MARGARIA. Utilisation of 1972. J. Appl. Physiol. 32(4) : 491-494. -The exercise of deep bending on the knees from the erect position followed by extension of the legs to return to the upright posture was performed by man under two different conditions: the extension (positive work) followed immediately the bending (rebound exercise), or alternatively a certain interval elapsed between the flexion and the extension to allow the extensors to relax (no rebound exercise). This exercise was performed on a platform sensitive to vertical acceleration; the O2 consumption at steady state was measured. The maximal speed measured during the extension was higher, the time of positive work was less, the mean power and the mechanical efficiency were greater in the rebound exercise. These differences are interpreted as evidence that elastic potential energy stored in the muscles stretched during the negative work phase of the exercise is utilized for the performance of positive work. THYS,

H., T.

muscle elasticity

muscular

legs to return to the upright position at a frequency of 20 cycles/min, as dictated by a metronome. In one group of experiments (no rebound), the flexion and the extension were performed at an interval of 1.5 s; on the other (re-’ bound), the extension movement took place immediately after the flexion, the total number of cycles per minute being the same. The degree of the flexion movement was approximately the same in both conditions and so therefore was also the work performed. The exercise was carried on for about 6 min, and the oxygen consumption at equilibrium measured with a closedcircuit method (6). In Table 1 the oxygen consumption values at steady state are given. The platform utilized had strain gauges sensitive to vertical forces; by successive electronic integrations the vertical speed and the displacement of the center of gravity were recorded (1). Horizontal accelerations (forward and lateral) were neglected; the internal work, such as that due to viscosity of the body tissues or to contraction of the muscles not leading to a displacement of the center of gravity of the body (isometric or symmetrical), was also disregarded. Electromyogram records were taken in some experiments with surface electrodes at the quadriceps sural level to insure that the extensor muscles really relaxed between the flexion and the extension movement.

FARRAGGIANA,

in exercise.

power; efficiency of muscular

contraction

ET AL. (5) have observed that an exercise consisting of bending the knees followed by extension of the legs to return to the erect position is performed with less energy expenditure if the extension immediately follows the act of flexion. If, on the contrary, between the flexion and the extension phase, a certain interval is allowed, during which relaxation of the extensor muscles of the leg takes place, the performance of the exercise is more difficult and the oxygen consumption appreciably greater. This has been interpreted as due to the fact that, in the first, case, the negative work performed during the flexion is partly transformed into elastic energy on the stretched contracted extensors of the legs and thus is utilized for the performance of positive work in the extension phase. This is possible only if the extension takes place very soon after the stretch phase and no relaxation takes place between the two phases. Since in both cases the number of flexions and extensions in a minute was the same, it was assumed that also the mechanical work performed was the same and therefore the efficiency of the exercise appeared to be much higher in the first instance. In this paper the mechanical work was exactly measured by having the subject perform the exercise on a platform sensitive to vertical forces, and the actual activity of the extensor muscles of the limbs recorded electromyographitally.

MARGARIA

RESULTS

In Fig. 1 the original tracings obtained from the platform measurement on one subject (HT) are shown for the exercise performed in both ways described above. When the extension follows immediately the flexion (rebound), the force exerted by the feet on the platform during the positive work phase attains a much higher value (250 kg) than when no rebound takes place (150 kg), in spite of an apparently lesser and certainly shorter electrical activity. The lift speed is correspondingly increased to about 1.45 m/s instead of 1.22 m/s. The downward speed during the flexion phase is also increased, thus increasing the work made on the contracted muscles. The EMG records for both the rebound and the no rebound tests are given in Fig. 2, A and B. From the tracings it appears clearly that when extension took place immediately after the flexion, no interruption could be observed in the electrical activity of the quadriceps. However, in the “no-rebound” experiments a period lasting about 0.6 s with no electrical activity is clearly seen between the two welldefined periods of electrical activity caused by the flexion and the extension. Electrical activity appears to be maximal in the first half of the extension phase under both experi-

METHOD

Six subjects (22-29 years old) performed the exercise of bending deeply on the knees followed by extension of the 491

492 TABLE

THY&

1. Mechanical

characteristics during positive-work

-

I LVt,

Subj

kg

Vertical Lift of Center of Gravity, m No reh

.-

&&ma1 speed of Lift of Center of Gravity, m/s

Diff %

Reb

1 Jo reb

keb

0.49

0.50

+2

1.28

1.36

+6

LP

80

0.55

0.54

-2

1.47

1.40

-5

SM

69

0.43

0.55

+28

1.03

1.43

+39

AZ

63

0.53

0.56

+6

1.19

1.43

+20

EG

75

0.44

0.49

1.15

1.62

$41

Av of first subj

75

0.55

0.51

-7

five

0.481 3 0.52'

+9

-

1.14

1.16

+2

TF,

since

No reb

(0.92)

(1.05)

440 (0.59) 459 (0.62) 551 (0.74) 537 (0.72)

654 (0.88) 598 (0.80) 758

Reb

Efficiency

Diff % ;o reb

Y

Reb

N 0 re1

Reb

+12

0.61

0.56

-8

1.88

1.40

-25

19

25

+31

+14

0.63

0.54

-14

2.05

1.70

-17

21

26

$24

+49

0.68

0.57

-16

1.73

1.33

-23

18

29

+61

+30

0.72

0.57

-21

1.82

1.30

-29

19

27

f42

+38

0.56

0.47

-16

1.97

1.70

-14

17

22

+29

+14

0.75

0.62

-17

1.77

1.70

-4

23

22

-13

1.89

1.49

-22

18.1

25.:

(1.02) 613 (0.82)

+29 I 1 he had

Diff %

.-

634 (0.85) 783

-

Average differences do not include subject tained in a skiing accident months before.

Duration of the Positive Work Phase, s

MARGARIA

--

-

Reb

564 (0.76) 685

+20

AND

exercise, and total energy cost

Diff % No reb ---

71

TF

of

Diff %

HT

$11

phase

FARAGGIANA,

some

mental conditions: it is appreciably less in the flexion phase, during the negative work performance, than in the phase of extension (performance of positive work). In Table 1 individual data are given for all subjects together with the duration of the positive work phase and the average power developed in the performance of positive work. The latter was calculated by dividing the potential energy gain during the lift by the duration of the positive work phase. Though the extension of the movement is little affected by the rebound (+9 %), the duration of the positive work

difficulty

in performing

0

+37

the experiments

due

to a broken

tibia

sus-

phase decreases in all subjects during the rebound exercise (avg - 15 70); consequently, the power developed increases constantly (avg f29 %). The speed of lifting increases appreciably (avg f21 %). In spite of the fact that the potential work performed is slightly increased during the exercise performed with rebound (+9 %), the oxygen consumption is always less (averaging -22 %), leading to an increase in the efficiency that in the rebound, reaches values about 40 % higher than in the no rebound exercise. DISCUSSION

FID. 1. Top tracing: vertical displacement of center of gravity in on right) or potential energy changes in joule meters (S,, ordinate (E,, ordinate on the left). S, = 0 indicates position of center of gravity of the body while subject is standing. Flexion downward, extension upward. .Middle tracing: vertical component of speed of center of gravity of the body in meters per second, as obtained by electronic integration from the bottom tracing. Bottom tracing: force exerted by the body on platform (in kg) ; subject weight is 7 1 kg. Tracings at left refer to exercise performed with a pause being allowed between flexion and extension (no rebound); tracings at right, when extension immediately followed flexion (rebound).

A certain amount of bouncing before lifting the body in the no-rebound performances takes place spontaneously; it took some training by the subjects to inhibit completely this movement which, however, was limited to an unappreciable value, as indicated in the tracing of Fig. 1. In spite of it, the differences described between the rebound and no rebound exercises are clearly evident. The greater speed of lifting attained in the rebound movement is presumably due to two factors that contribute to it, the speed of muscle shortening being, in fact, the sum of the speed of shortening of the contractile elements plus the speed of shortening of the series elastic elements which are stretched in the negative work phase (1). The load on the muscles limits the speed of shortening of the contractile elements which alone contribute to the shortening of the muscles in the no-rebound exercise, whereas the series elastic elements elongate with developing tension. The parallel elastic elements of the muscle, even if we consider such things as stress relaxation effects, certainly do not appreciably come into play in this exercise. A stretching of them occurs only at very high muscle lengths that never occur in the muscle “in situ” but only in isolated muscle preparations. The increase of the average power is simply an effect of the increase in the speed of the whole muscle shortening and, therefore, of the speed of lifting the body as described.

MUSCLE

the

ELASTICITY

FIG. 2. A: movement:

rebound flexion

IN

493

EXERCISE

exercise. [email protected] tracing: downward, extension

mechanical record of upward. Lower tracing:

The lower energy expenditure in the rebound experiments confirms the data by Margaria et al. (5) and by Thys (7). The mechanical efficiency of the movement has been calculated by arbitrarily considering as mechanical work only the positive work and disregarding the negative. In the no-rebound experiments, the efficiency turns out to be about 0.19, a figure very similar to that calculated by Margaria (4) on exercises such as walking on the level (0.207) where the positive and negative work performed are the same, as the case is for the present experiments. In the rebound experiments, efficiency attains appreciably higher values (avg = 0.26) because the mechanical work performed in the lifting phase is not all due to the activity of the contractile elements of the muscle, but is partly accounted for by the “elastic” energy stored in the muscles as an effect of the work done on the muscles during the negative work phase of the exercise. The energy cost of the negative work fraction of the exercise must have been very much the same in the two modalities of the performance, since the speed of muscle stretching was not very different. Furthermore, the cost of the negative work only amounts to a little more than onefifth the value of the same positive work (3, 4), and even a considerable difference in the cost of the negative work in the two exercises would not have affected appreciably the large difference in the total cost of the exercise. This difference must therefore be attributed substantially to the cost of the positive work performed in the two conditions. It may be questioned whether the squatting posture held for about 1 s/cycle in the no rebound exercise requires a different O2 consumption than standing for the same time in the no rebound exercise. Actually the O2 consumption was tested for all subjects in the two postures (erect and

global electromyographic exercise. Same indications

activity of quadriceps as in A.

sural.

B: no-rebound

squatting), and the values were not appreciably different, as expected. Cavagna et al. (2) found efficiency values even higher than those reported above for mechanical work performed in running (0.40-0.50). Probably the mechanical efficiency in running is so high because the elastic potential energy stored in the elastic elements of the stretched muscles, during the fall of the body on the ground, is better utilized than in the present rebound exercise. The lengthening of the contracted muscles in the stretching phase of this exercise is presumably too large, and the time course of the stretching-shortening events is not the optimal one. In running the flexion-extension movement of the limbs is very limited, as it is in most common exercises such as jumping, weight throwing, etc. Furthermore, the time of the stretching-shortening phase of the active muscles in fast running, where the number of steps per second is 4-5, is much shorter than in the present experiments, and the utilization of the elastic energy more efficient. The difference between the no rebound and rebound exercises here described supports the hypothesis that an appreciable part of the positive work done by the muscles in some exercises can be performed by taking advantage of the elastic energy stored when stretching the contracted muscles. This is possible only if the positive work follows immediately the negative work; if the muscle is allowed to relax the elastic energy is turned into heat. This research was supported by the Italian National Research Council (CNR) . H. Thys is on a fellowship of the 163th district of the International Rotary Club. Present address: Laboratoire de Physiologie Humaine Appliqute, Universitt de Liege, Sart-Tilman, Belgium. Received

for publication

27 September

1971.

REFERENCES 1.

CAVAGNA, G. rZ., L. KOMAREK, G. CITTERIO, Power

output

of the previously

stretched

AND

muscle.

R. MARGARIA. In: Medicine and

Sport. Biomechanics 159-167.

II. Base1 & New-York:

Karger,

1971,

vol.

6, p.

494 2. CAVAGNA,

G. A., F. P. SAIBENE, AND R. MARGARIA. Mechanical work in running. J. AppZ. Physiol. 19: 249-256, 1964. 3. MARGARIA, R. Sulla fisiologia e specialmente sul consumo energetico della marcia e della corsa a varia velocita ed inclinazione de1 terreno. Atti ReaZe Accad. NazZ. Linxei 7 : 299-368, 1938. 4. MARCARIA, R. Positive and negative work performances and their efficiencies in human locomotion. Intern. 2. Angew. Physiol. 25: 339-35 1, 1968. 5. MARGARIA, R., G. A. CAVAGNA, AND F. P. SAIBENE. Possibilita di

THYS,

FARAGGIANA,

AND

MARGARIA

sfruttamento dell’elasticita de1 muscolo contratto durante l’esercizio muscolare. Boll. Sot. Ital. BioZ. S’er. 34 : 18 15-l 8 16, 1963. 6. MARGARIA, R.,R. GALANTE, AND P. CERRETELLI. Anefficient CO2 absorber for experiments on metabolism. J. A/@. Physiol. 14: 1066, 1959. 7. THYS, H. In&et de l’utilisation des elgments elastiques en serie du muscle strie humain, dans un exercise de va-et-vient. Kinesitherap. Sci., Paris. In press.