Tension decline during isometric contractions without visual cues

William M. Abraham, Albert B. Craig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Subjects tried to maintain 15%, 30% and 50% maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) of their handgrip for 60 sec and 70% MVC for 30 sec. When the subjects watched the tension record, they could maintain the contraction for the required time. However, without visual cues (uncued), the tests resulted in a tension decline. Ae(-αt) described the tension decline in the 15% tests. Be(-βt) the 70% test, while the form in the 30% and 50% tests was Ae(-αt) + Be(-βt). In all cases, α and/or β were found to be dependent on the starting tension. The electrical activity obtained from surface electromyograms did not increase during the uncued tests which would be expected if muscle fatigue were involved in the tension decline. Instead, the electrical activity was directly proportional to the decline in tension suggesting that the fall in tension was not due entirely to muscle fatigue. 15% MVC uncued tests in which fatigue is known not to be a factor also showed a tension decline. Precooling the hand in an attempt to alter sensory input produced no systematic change from the original uncued tests, indicating that sensory information from the hand was probably not a major factor in the tension decline. It is suggested that during the uncued tests the fast component of the tension decline may be related to a sensory adaptation involving the Golgi tendon organs. The slow component is due to forearm muscle fatigue which is related to the ischemia produced during the isometric contractions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-104
Number of pages6
JournalMedicine and science in sports and exercise
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1975


  • Autogenic inhibition
  • Golgi tendon organs
  • Isometric handgrip contractions
  • Surface electro myograms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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