Modulation of spinal excitability following neuromuscular electrical stimulation superimposed to voluntary contraction
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Purpose. Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) superimposed on voluntary muscle contraction has been recently shown as an innovative training modality within sport and rehabilitation, but its effects on the neuromuscular system are still unclear. The aim of this study was to investigate acute responses in spinal excitability, as measured by the Hoffmann (H) reflex, and in maximal voluntary contraction (MVIC) following NMES superimposed to voluntary isometric contractions (NMES+ISO) compared to passive NMES only and to voluntary isometric contractions only (ISO). Method. Fifteen young adults were required to maintain an ankle plantar-flexor torque of 20% MVC for 20 repetitions during each experimental condition (NMES+ISO, NMES and ISO). Surface electromyography was used to record peak-to-peak Hreflex and motor waves following percutaneous stimulation of the posterior tibial nerve in the dominant limb. An isokinetic dynamometer was used to assess maximal voluntary contraction output of the ankle plantar flexor muscles. Results. H-reflex amplitude was increased by 4.5% after the NMES+ISO condition (p < 0.05), while passive NMES and ISO conditions showed a decrease by 7.8% (p < 0.05) and no change in reflex responses, respectively. There was no change in amplitude of maximal motor wave and in MVIC torque during each experimental condition. Conclusion. The reported facilitation of spinal excitability following NMES+ISO could be due to a combination of greater motor neuronal and corticospinal excitability, thus suggesting that NMES superimposed onto isometric voluntary contractions may provide a more effective neuromuscular stimulus and, hence, training modality compared to NMES alone.
European Journal of Applied Physiology;
Article accepted for publication in European Journal of Applied Physiology
Cardiff Metropolitan University (Grant ID: Cardiff Metropolian (Internal))
- Sport Research Groups 
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