Effects of hyperbaric (6 ATA) pressure on voluntary and evoked skeletal muscle contractile properties

D Behm, K Power, M White, K LeDez, D Decker, Eric Drinkwater

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    2 Citations (Scopus)


    The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of 6 atmospheres of pressure (ATA) on plantar flexors' (PF) voluntary force and activation, force-frequency characteristics, and rate of torque development (RTD). Eight subjects performed PF isometric contractions. Muscle activation was monitored by electromyographic (EMG) activity (PF and dorsiflexors) and the interpolated twitch technique (ITT). Maximal evoked contractions of the PF were elicited at 1, 2, 3, 5, 10, 20, and 40 Hz. PF RTD was calculated with maximal voluntary, 1 and 40 Hz contractions. Hyperbaric pressures significantly decreased PF voluntary torque; 6.2%, ITT activation; 2.8% with a trend for a 19.1% decrease in EMG (p = 0.1). There were no significant differences in the dorsiflexors/PF EMG ratio. One Hz torque was potentiated 15.7% with an increased absolute RTD of 12.8%, but no change in relative RTD. The results suggested hyperbaric-induced decreases in PF activation contributed to voluntary torque loss. A lack of torque reduction with higher frequency tetanic stimulation (2-40 Hz) suggested that 6 ATA does not impair myofilament kinetics, whereas twitch potentiation may include changes in excitation-contraction coupling.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)103-115
    Number of pages13
    JournalUndersea and Hyperbaric Medicine
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2003


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