Determining the corticospinal and neuromuscular responses following a warm-up protocol

Rhys Painter, Alan J Pearce, Mohamad Rostami, Ashlyn Frazer, Dawson John Kidgell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Background: The effect of warming-up prior to exercise on increased neuromuscular transmission speed remains largely untested. Objective: This study used transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and peripheral nerve stimulation (PNS) to quantify neuromuscular transmission along the corticospinal tract (CST) before and after a warm-up protocol of the elbow flexors. Method: Using a single-group, pre-test-post-test design, 30 participants (20 male; 10 female; mean age 26.3 ± 7.4 years) completed four sets of bicep curls that aimed to increase heart rate (HR) and biceps brachii (BB) muscle temperature by a minimum of 40 beats per minute (bpm) and 1°C, respectively. Single-pulse TMS was applied to the primary motor cortex, and over the cervical and thoracic (C7-T1) areas of the spine to quantify motor evoked potentials (MEPs) and spinal evoked potentials (SEPs), respectively. Central motor conduction time (CMCT) was determined by calculating the difference in latency time of the onset of MEPs and SEPs. Peripheral motor conduction time (PMCT) was calculated following stimuli from Erb’s point to the onset of the maximal compound muscle action potential twitch (MMAX latency). MMAX time to peak twitch was also measured. MMAX amplitude was used to normalize the MEP to quantify corticospinal excitability. Results: Following the warm-up, significant increases in mean heart rate (44.8 ± 11.7 bpm; P < 0.001) and muscle temperature (1.4 ± 0.6°C; P < 0.001) were observed. No changes were seen in corticospinal excitability (P = 0.39), CMCT (P = 0.09), or MMAX latency (P = 0.24). However, MMAX time to peak twitch was significantly reduced (P = 0.003). Conclusion: This study has shown that exercise-based warm-ups improve neuromuscular conduction velocity via thermoregulatory processes that result in the onset of muscle contraction being more rapid, but not as a result of changes in the efficacy of neural transmission along the CST
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalThe Journal of Science and Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jun 2020

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