Changes in neuromuscular strategies employed with fatigue during multi-joint movements are still poorly understood. Studies have shown that motor variability of individual joints increases when performing upper limb tasks to fatigue, while movement parameters related to the task goal remain constant. However, how the inter-limb coordination and its variability change during specific movement phases with fatigue is still unclear. The aim of this study was to assess the effects of neck-shoulder fatigue on shoulder and elbow kinematic variabilities, shoulder-elbow coordination and its variability, and endpoint characteristics during different phases of a forward pointing movement. Nineteen healthy young adults continuously performed a repetitive pointing task until fatigue (Borg rating of 8/10). Changes in elbow-shoulder coordination through the movement were assessed using the continuous relative phase and statistical nonparametric mapping methods. At the end of the task, muscle fatigue was evidenced by significant increases in anterior deltoid (+13%) and biceps brachii (+30%) activity. Shoulder horizontal abduction, elbow flexion variability and shoulder-elbow coordination variability were increased with fatigue at different moments of the movement cycle (shoulder: during the first 17% and most of the second half movement, elbow: from 73% to 91%, coordination: almost the whole movement). However, movement timing errors and endpoint spatial variability were mostly preserved, even with fatigue. We showed that increased variability with fatigue is not only observed in the fatigued joint (shoulder), but also in the elbow and shoulder-elbow coordination, and may have a goal of preserving global task performance.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Biomedical Engineering