Understanding the Relationship between Fatigue and Muscle Contraction

Muscle contraction in exercise requires force and power, and over time, you grow tired and fatigued from exerting such force. The science behind muscle fatigue and tiredness caused by muscle contraction remains very in depth and advanced, though simple terms help describe the phenomenon that occurs.

Muscle Contraction and Fatigue

Muscle contraction, labeled as any movement performed by muscle fiber whether it increases or decreases length, requires action and force. However, in some cases such as stretching which induces passive muscle contractions, you probably will not exert much force at all. The cause of fatigue within the body often has much less to do with muscle contraction compared to other acting forces. The large connection between the two remains popular because muscle contraction becomes difficult and sometimes even painful when fatigue sets in.

Causes of Fatigue

When fatigue occurs in your body, you often have the inability to perform exerting forces. Several factors lead to fatigue other than muscle contraction, however.

  • Sickness
  • Muscle atrophy or the deterioration of muscle fiber
  • Old age and muscle deterioration
  • Menstrual related imbalances
  • Pregnancy
  • Limited rest
  • Poor nutrition and diet

Besides of these causes of fatigue, muscle contraction does force your body to become less able to produce skeletal muscle contractions. This phenomenon remains widely debated and hard to directly identify. The cause of the fatigue related to muscle contraction most commonly happens as a result of either chemical imbalances or a perceived minimal effort.

Muscle Contraction Factors and Failures

When you perform exercises such as squats, the fibers in the quadriceps lengthen and then extend back to the regular length. Repeating this process several times becomes difficult after a duration of time because of a burning sensation, often associated with lactic acid.

In order for muscle tissue to breakdown, repair and develop through growth, your body must take in and produce proper amounts of oxygen and energy from food and supplements. When the body fails to have proper amounts of ATP, or the energy required to perform any form of action, muscles shut down and become laden with lactic acid.

This process often occurs during phases of short but very intense exercising, or periods after lengthy low impact cardiovascular activities, such as jogging or walking on the treadmill. You have the ability to quickly recover within minutes after each exercise set even after the burning sensation sets in. However, after lengthy periods of muscle contraction in running or walking, your body becomes very tired and worn down. Muscle contractions that demand constant action, like most cardiovascular exercises, requires longer recovery periods, while those such as lifting weights for a few sets require less time to avoid fatigue.

Avoiding Fatigue

Performing powerful muscle contractions that require large amounts of force will undoubtedly cause you some discomfort, soreness and fatigue. However, choosing to eat a proper diet and sticking with an exercise plan allows muscles to grow and adapt to muscle contractions, making your life in the gym much easier. Some supplements sold at drug stores and health product retailers also help with the production of oxygen and ATP in muscle cells, both required to avoid extreme fatigue.


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