The Effect of Quadriceps Fatigue on Co-Activation of Knee Muscles during Walking

Document Type : Original Article


Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences, Faculty of Physical Education and Sport Sciences, Bu Ali Sina University, Hamedan, Iran.


Background and Objectives: Localized muscle fatigue in lower extremity can result in disturbance muscular co-activation during walking. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of quadriceps fatigue on muscle co-activation of the knee during stance phase of walking.
Subjects and Methods: Twenty-four university male students participated in this study. Leg extension machine was used to induce quadriceps fatiguewith 50% of one-repetition maximum load. Surface electromyographic signals from rectus femoris, vastus medialis, vastus lateralis, biceps femoris, semitendinosus, lateral gastrocnemius, medial gastrocnemius and tibialis anterior muscles were recorded during walking before and after fatigue protocol. Paired t-test was used to analyze the data (P<0.05).
Results: General co-contraction during contact phase (P=0.001) and propulsion phase (P=0.009) decreased significantly. Directed co-contraction during propulsion phase increased significantly (P=0.017). Flexor directed co-contraction during propulsion phase increased significantly (P=0.013). Hamstring to Quadriceps activity ratio during contact phase decreased significantly (P=0.036) and propulsion phase increased significantly (P=0.013).
Conclusion: According to the results of this study, it can be concluded that localized quadriceps muscle fatigue alters the quadriceps to hamstring activity ratio consequently, the body attempts to compensate risk factors for related-fatigue with co-activation pattern of the knee muscles.    


1-Winter D. Biomechanics of normal and pathological gait: Implications for understanding human locomotor control. Journal Motor Behavior 1989;21, 337.
2-Winter D. Review: Human balance and posture control during standing and walking. Gait & Posture 1995; 3:193-214.
3-Winter D.The Biomechanics and Motor Control of Human Gait: Normal, Elderly and Pathological. 2nd edition (Waterloo, Ontario, Waterloo Biomechanics 1991).
4-Winter D,Yack H. EMG profiles during normal human walking:stride-to-stride and inter-subject variability. Electroencephalography and clinical Neurophysiology 1987; 67: 402-411.
5-Yoshino K, Motoshige T, Araki T, Matsuoka K. Effect of prolonged free-walking fatigue on gait and physiological rhythm. Journal of Biomechanics 2004; 37(8) ; 1271-128.
6-Qu X, Yeo J. Effects of load carriage and fatigue on gait characteristics. Journal of Biomechanics 2011; 44(7) : 1259-1263.
7-Paillard T.Effects of general and local fatigue on postural control: A review. Neuroscience and biobehavioral reviews 2012; 36(1) : 162-180.
8-Chaffin D. Localized muscle fatigue-definition and measurement. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 1973; 15(4) : 346.357
9-Christina K, White S, Gilchrist L. Effect of localized muscular fatigue on vertical ground reaction forces and ankle joint motion during running. Human Movement Science 2001; 20:257–76.
10-Cifrek M, Medved V, Tonkovic S, Ostojic S. Surface EMG based muscle fatigue evaluation in biomechanics. Clinical Biomechanics 2009; 24(4) : 327-340
11-Cifrek M, Tonković S, Medved V. Measurement and analysis of surface myoelectric signals during fatigued cyclic dynamic contractions. Measurement 2000; 27(2) : 85-92.
12-Davidson B, Madigan M, Nussbaum A, Wojcik L. Effects of localized muscle fatigue on recovery from a postural perturbation without stepping. Gait & Posture 2009; 29(4) : 552-557.
13-Gagnon D, Arsenault B, Smyth G, Kemp F. Co-contraction changes in muscular fatigue at different levels of isometric contraction. International journal of industrial ergonomic 1992; 9:343-348
14-Gehring D, Melnyk M, Gollhofer A. Gender and fatigue have influence on knee joint control strategies during landing. Clinical Biomechanics 2009;24(1) : 82-87.
15-Gonzalez-Izal M, Malanda A, Navarro-Amezqueta I, Gorostiaga E, Mallor F, Ibanez J, Izquierdo M. EMG spectral indices and muscle power fatigue during dynamic contractions. Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology 2010; 20(2) :233-240.
16-Granacher U, Wolf I, Wehrle A, Bridenbaugh S, Kressig R. Effects of muscle fatigue on gait characteristics under single and dual-task conditions in young and older adults. Journal of Neuro Engineering and Rehabilitation 2010; 7:56-56.
17-Hatfield G. The Effects of Quadriceps Impairment On Lower Limb Kinematics, Kinetics And Muscle Activation During Gait In Young Adults. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science, Dalhousie University Halifax, Nova Scotia 2009.
18-Helbostad J, Leirfall S, Moe-Nilssen R, Sletvold O. Physical fatigue affects gait characteristics in older persons. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences 2007;62(9) : 1010-1015.
19-Parijat P, Lockhart T. Effects of quadriceps fatigue on the biomechanics of gait and slip propensity. Gait & Posture 2008; 28(4) : 568-573.
20-Anbarian M, Esmaeili H, Hosseini Nejad E, Rabiei M, Binabaji H. Comparison of knee joint muscle’s activity in subjects with genu varum and the controls during walking and running. Journal Research in Rehabilitation Science 2012; 8(2) :298-309. .[Article in Persian]
21-Esmaeili H, Anbarian M, Hajiloo B, Sanjari MA. The immediate effect of foot insole on electromyography activity and co-contraction of leg muscles in individuals with flat feet. Journal Research in Rehabilitation Science 2013; 9(2) : 295-307.[Article in Persian]
22-Heiden T, Lloyd T, Ackland T. Knee joint kinematics, kinetics and muscle co-contraction in knee osteoarthritis patient gait. Clinical Biomechanics 2009. 24(10) : 833-841.
23-Lloyd D, Buchanan T. Strategies of muscular support of varus and valgus isometric loads at the human knee. Journal of Biomechanics 2001. 34(10) : 1257-1267.
24-Hamill J, Kathleen M. Biomechanical Basis of Human Movement. 3rd Edition, Williams & Wilkins 2009.
25-Neumann D. Kinesiology of the musculoskeletal system: foundations for physical rehabilitation. 1st ed, Mosby,lnc 2002.
26-Oatis C. Kinesiology, the mechanics and pathomechanics of human movement. 2nd ed, Williams and Wilkins 2009.
27-Reimer R, Wikstrom E. Functional fatigue of the hip and ankle musculature cause similar alterations in single leg stance postural control. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport 2010; 13(1) : 161-166.
27-Masuda K, Masuda T, Sadoyama T, Inaki, M, Katsuta S. Changes in surface EMG parameters during static and dynamic fatiguing contractions. Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology 1999;9(1) : 39-46
29-Pincivero D, Gandhi V, Timmons M, Coelho A. Quadriceps femoris electromyogram during concentric, isometric and eccentric phases of fatiguing dynamic knee extensions. Journal of Biomechanics 2006; 39(2) : 246-254.
30-Winter D,Yack H. EMG profiles during normal human walking:stride-to-stride and inter-subject variability. Electroencephalography and clinical Neurophysiology 1987; 67: 402-411.
31-Rubenstein Z. Falls in older people: epidemiology risk factors and strategies for prevention. Age and ageing 2006; 35(2) , 37-41.
32-Kadaba M, Ramakrishnan H, Wootten, M, Gainey J, Gorton G, Cochran G. Repeatability of kinematic, kinetic, and electromyographic data in normal adult gait. Journal of Orthopaedic Research 1989;7(6) : 849-860.
33- Liu J, Lockhart T. Comparison of 3D joint moments using local and global inverse dynamics approaches among three different age groups. Gait Posture 2006; 23:480–5.
34-Kim S, Lockhart T,Yoon H. Relationship between age related gait adaptations and required coefficient of friction. Saf Science 2005; 43: 425–36.
35-Lockhart T,Woldstad J, Smith J. Effects of age-related gait changes on biomechanics of slips and falls. Ergonomics 2003; 46:1136–40.
36-Rahnama N, Lees A, Reilly T. Electromyography of selected lower-limb muscles fatigued by exercise at the intensity of soccer match play. Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology 2006; 16: 257–63.
37-De Souza O, Caputo F, Gonçalves M, Denadai B. Heavy-intensity aerobic exercise affects the isokinetic torque and functional but not conventional hamstrings: quadriceps ratios. Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology 2009;19 ( 6) 1079-1084.