Purpose: Unique neuromuscular activation of the quadriceps femoris is observed during multi-joint leg extensions: lower activation of the biarticular rectus femoris (RF) than monoarticular vasti muscles. As one of the potential mechanisms for the lower RF activation, Ia afferent-mediated inhibitory connections between synergistic muscles and/or between agonist and antagonist muscles have been proposed. If this is the major factor, it is hypothesized that RF activation during multi-joint leg extensions increases after prolonged vibration to synergistic and/or antagonist muscles. This study tested the hypothesis. Methods: Fourteen men exerted maximal voluntary isometric knee extension and flexion and performed submaximal parallel squat before and after one of the following three interventions on different days: prolonged vibration to the vastus lateralis (VL, synergist) or biceps femoris (BF, antagonist), or quiet sitting for 30 min. Muscle activations of the quadriceps femoris and hamstrings were determined using surface electromyography. Results: After prolonged VL or BF vibration, VL (21%) or BF (30%) activation during isometric contractions significantly decreased, which was significantly correlated with the reduction of the maximal isometric knee extension or flexion strength. The magnitude of RF activation during squat was significantly lower than those of VL and the vastus medialis. No significant increase in RF activation during squat was observed after vibrations. Conclusion: The findings suggest that lower biarticular RF activation compared with the monoarticular vasti muscles during multi-joint exercises does not result from the modulation by peripheral inhibitory input from Ia afferents originating from synergist and/or antagonist muscles.
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