Sharwood, K., Paavolainen, L., Nummela, A., Lambert, M., St Clair Gibson, A., Rusko, H., & Noakes, T. (2003). Changes in neural recruitment patterns during and after a 5 km time trial in distance runners. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 35(5), Supplement abstract 567.

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This study investigated neuromuscular changes associated with fatigue during and immediately after a 5-km time trial. Superior distance runners (N = 18) performed a maximal voluntary contraction and 20-m sprint before a 5-km time trial. The sprint was repeated in the last lap of the 5-km run and the maximal voluntary contraction was performed immediately after the time trial.

Sprint time increased significantly in the time trial as did ground contact time in the running action. There were significant decreases in stride length, stride frequency, and muscle preactivation after the time trial. Sprinting changed in concert with increase in ground contact time, and decreases in stride length, frequency, and preactivation. Force (maximal voluntary contraction) decreased as a consequence of fatigue.

Implication. The brain regulates performance by altering lower limb neural recruitment patterns.

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