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Functional Muscle metabolic demand during contractions evoked by neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) has been consistently documented to be greater than voluntary contractions (VOL) at the same force level (10-50% maximal voluntary contraction-MVC). However, we have shown using a near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) technique that local muscle metabolic demand is similar between NMES and VOL performed at MVC levels, thus controversy exists. This study therefore compared biceps brachii muscle metabolic demand (tissue oxygenation index-TOI and total hemoglobin volume-tHb) during a 10s isometric contraction of the elbow flexors between NMES (stimulation frequency of 30Hz and current level to evoke 30% MVC) and VOL at 30% MVC (VOL-30%MVC) and MVC (VOL-MVC) level in 8 healthy men (23-33-y). Greater changes in TOI and tHb induced by NMES than VOL-30%MVC confirm previous studies of a greater local metabolic demand for NMES than VOL at the same force level. The same TOI and tHb changes for NMES and VOL-MVC suggest that local muscle metabolic demand and intramuscular pressure were similar between conditions. In conclusion, these findings indicate that NMES induce a similar local muscle metabolic demand as that of maximal VOL.
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