Older Adults Exhibit a Reduced Ability to Fully Activate Their Biceps Brachii Muscle

G. H. Yue, V. K. Ranganathan, V. Siemionow, J. Z. Liu, V. Sahgal
1999 The journals of gerontology. Series A, Biological sciences and medical sciences  
Background. Voluntary muscle strength declines significantly in older adults. One contributing factor to the strength loss is muscle atrophy developed in old age. Whether the ability to maximally activate the muscle decreases with age, however, is unknown. This study was intended to determine if the central nervous system command to maximally activate the biceps brachii muscle deteriorates with age. Methods. Electrical stimulation pulses were applied to the skin overlying the biceps brachii
more » ... biceps brachii muscle during maximal voluntary elbow-flexion contractions. The magnitude of force evoked on the maximal voluntary force was measured to determine the activation level (AL) of the muscle. Results. The AL was 94% for the elderly group and 97% for the young group (100% AL indicates complete activation). The AL for both the elderly and young groups was significantly (p < .05) lower than 100%. The AL of the elderly group was significantly (p < .05) lower than that of the young group. Conclusions. The loss of voluntary strength in older adults is a mixed result of muscle atrophy and a reduced ability to fully activate muscle. Address coorrespondence to Dr.
doi:10.1093/gerona/54.5.m249 pmid:10362008 fatcat:46fgmx7wdvahxa5ll6ax6mm4ze