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American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology





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Blood flow and muscle oxygenation during low, moderate, and maximal sustained isometric contractions. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 309: R475–R481, 2015. First published June 17, 2015; doi:10.1152/ajpregu.00387.2014.—A reduction of blood flow to active muscle will precipitate fatigue, and sustained isometric contractions produce intramuscular and compartmental pressures that can limit flow. The present study explored how blood flow and muscle oxygenation respond to isometric contractions at low, moderate, and maximal intensities. Over two visits, 10 males (26 2 yr; means SD) performed 1-min dorsiflexion contractions at 30, 60, and 100% of maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) torque. Doppler ultrasound of the anterior tibial artery was used to record arterial diameter and mean blood velocity and to calculate absolute blood flow. The tissue oxygenation index (TOI) of tibialis anterior was acquired with nearinfrared spectroscopy (NIRS). There was a progressive increase in blood flow at 30% MVC (peak of 289 139% resting value), no change from rest until an increase in the final 10 s of exercise at 60% MVC (peak of 197 102% rest), and an initial decrease (59 30% resting value) followed by a progressive increase at 100% MVC (peak of 355 133% rest). Blood flow was greater at 30 and 100% than 60% MVC during the last 30 s of exercise. TOI was 63% at rest and, within 30 s of exercise, reached steady-state values of 42%, 22%, and 22% for 30, 60, and 100% MVC, respectively. Even maximal contraction of the dorsiflexors is unable to cause more than a transient decrease of flow in the anterior tibial artery. Unlike dynamic or intermittent isometric exercise, our results indicate blood flow is not linearly graded with intensity or directly coupled with oxygenation during sustained isometric contractions.

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