Inspiratory muscles experience fatigue faster than the calf muscles during treadmill marching

Renana Perlovitch, Amit Gefen, David Elad*, Anat Ratnovsky, Mordechai R. Kramer, Pinchas Halpern

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The possibility that respiratory muscles may fatigue during extreme physical activity and thereby become a limiting factor leading to exhaustion is debated in the literature. The aim of this study was to determine whether treadmill marching exercise induces respiratory muscle fatigue, and to compare the extent and rate of respiratory muscle fatigue to those of the calf musculature. To identify muscle fatigue, surface electromyographic (EMG) signals of the inspiratory (sternomastoid, external intercostals), expiratory (rectus abdominis and external oblique) and calf (gastrocnemius lateralis) muscles were measured during a treadmill march of 2 km at a constant velocity of 8 km/h. The extent of fatigue was assessed by determining the increase in root-mean-square (RMS) of EMG over time, and the rate of fatigue was assessed from the slope of the EMG RMS versus time curve. Results indicated that (i) the inspiratory and calf muscles are the ones experiencing the most dominant fatigue during treadmill marching, (ii) the rate of fatigue of each muscle group was monotonic between the initial and terminal phases of exercise, and (iii) the inspiratory muscles fatigue significantly faster than the calf at the terminal phase of exercise, and are likely to fatigue faster during the initial exercise as well. Accordingly, this study supports the hypothesis that fatigue of the inspiratory muscles may be a limiting factor during exercise.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-68
Number of pages8
JournalRespiratory Physiology and Neurobiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 15 Apr 2007


  • EMG, Exhaustion
  • Exercise
  • Respiratory muscles
  • Training


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