Biomechanics of handcycling propulsion in a 30-min continuous load test at lactate threshold: Kinetics, kinematics, and muscular activity in able-bodied participants

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Purpose
This study aims to investigate the biomechanics of handcycling during a continuous load trial (CLT) to assess the mechanisms underlying fatigue in upper body exercise.
Methods
Twelve able-bodied triathletes performed a 30-min CLT at a power output corresponding to lactate threshold in a racing recumbent handcycle mounted on a stationary ergometer. During the CLT, ratings of perceived exertion (RPE), tangential crank kinetics, 3D joint kinematics and muscular activity of ten muscles of the upper-extremity and trunk were examined using motion capturing and surface electromyography.
Results
During the CLT, spontaneously chosen cadence and RPE increased whereas crank torque decreased. Rotational work was higher during the pull phase. Peripheral RPE was higher compared to central RPE. Joint range of motion decreased for elbow flexion and radial duction. Integrated EMG (iEMG) increased in the forearm flexors, forearm extensors and M. deltoideus (Pars spinalis). An earlier onset of activation was found for M. deltoideus (Pars clavicularis), M. pectoralis major, M. rectus abdominis, M. biceps brachii and the forearm flexors.
Conclusion
Fatigue-related alterations seem to apply analogously in handcycling and cycling. The most distal muscles are responsible for force transmission on the cranks and might thus suffer most from neuromuscular fatigue. The findings indicate that peripheral fatigue (at similar lactate values) is higher in handcycling compared to leg cycling, at least for inexperienced participants. An increase in cadence might delay peripheral fatigue by a reduced vascular occlusion. We assume that the gap between peripheral and central fatigue can be reduced by sport-specific endurance training.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean journal of applied physiology
Number of pages13
ISSN1439-6319
Publication statusPublished - 18.04.2020

ID: 5166401

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