Magnetic versus electrical stimulation in the interpolation twitch technique of elbow flexors

Sofia I. Lampropoulou, Alexander V. Nowicky, Louise Marston

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6 Citations (Scopus)


The study compared peripheral magnetic with electrical stimulation of the biceps brachii m. (BB) in the single pulse Interpolation Twitch Technique (ITT). 14 healthy participants (31±7 years) participated in a within-subjects repeated-measures design study. Single, constant-current electrical and magnetic stimuli were delivered over the motor point of BB with supramaximal intensity (20% above maximum) at rest and at various levels of voluntary contraction. Force measurements from right elbow isometric flexion and muscle electromyograms (EMG) from the BB, the triceps brachii m. (TB) and the abductor pollicis brevis m. (APB) were obtained. The twitch forces at rest and maximal contractions, the twitch force-voluntary force relationship, the M-waves and the voluntary activation (VA) of BB between magnetic and electrical stimulation were compared. The mean amplitude of the twitches evoked at MVC was not significantly different between electrical (0.62 ± 0.49 N) and magnetic (0.81 ± 0.49 N) stimulation (p > 0.05), and the maximum VA of BB was comparable between electrical (95%) and magnetic (93%) stimulation (p > 0.05). No differences (p >0.05) were revealed in the BB M-waves between electrical (13.47 ± 0.49 and magnetic (12.61 ± 0.58 stimulation. The TB M-waves were also similar (p > 0.05) but electrically evoked APB M-waves were significantly larger than those evoked by magnetic stimulation (p < 0.05). The twitchvoluntary force relationship over the range of MVCs was best described by non-linear functions for both electrical and magnetic stimulation. The electrically evoked resting twitches were consistently larger in amplitude than the magnetically evoked ones (mean difference 3.1 ± 3.34 N, p < 0.05). Reduction of the inter-electrodes distance reduced the twitch amplitude by 6.5 ± 6.2 N (p < 0.05). The fundamental similarities in voluntary activation assessment of BB with peripheral electrical and magnetic stimulation point towards a promising new application of peripheral magnetic stimulation as an alternative to the conventional ITT for the assessment of BB voluntary activation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)709-718
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Sports Science and Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


  • Elbow flexors
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Interpolation twitch technique
  • Magnetic stimulation
  • Voluntary activation


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