Journal of Applied Physiology

Catchlike property of human muscle during isovelocity movements

S. A. Binder-Macleod, S. C. Lee


This study examined the catchlike property of skeletal muscle during eccentric and concentric isovelocity contractions of fresh and fatigued quadriceps femoris muscles of 10 healthy subjects. During concentric contractions of fresh muscles, stimulation trains that elicited a catchlike response (CITs) produced greater force outputs and rates of rise force than comparable constant-frequency trains. These enhancements became more pronounced during fatigue. CITs were less effective in enhancing forces during eccentric contractions but did improve the rates of rise of force. Overall, the CIT that produced the greatest augmentation had a 5-ms initial interpulse interval. Proposed mechanisms for the catchlike property involve enhanced muscle stiffness for more efficient transmission of tension and increased calcium release. These results suggest that stimulation trains that take advantage of the catchlike property of skeletal muscle may be helpful during clinical applications where neuromuscular electrical stimulation is used to restore function in patients with damaged central nervous systems.