Effects of physical and mental demands on shoulder muscle fatigue. Academic Article uri icon


  • Mental demands have been associated with increased risk of injuries; however, its influence on muscle fatigability remains unclear. The aim of this study was to investigate the interaction of mental workload and physical workload on muscle fatigability during repetitive shoulder work. Twelve young participants, balanced by gender, performed shoulder abduction exercises until exhaustions at three levels of physical workload (low (5% maximum voluntary contraction (MVC)), moderate (35% MVC), and high (55% MVC)) in the absence and presence of a mental arithmetic test. Endurance time and rate of strength decline were employed as indicators of muscle fatigue. Concurrent physical and mental processing was found to adversely decrease muscle endurance by ~25% at the moderate intensity level. Furthermore, concurrent demands were associated with faster rate of strength decline compared to the control, irrespective of the physical intensity level. Findings from the current study provide evidence of the adverse effects of mental workload on muscle capacity (i.e., endurance and fatigue). It is therefore important to consider potential changes in worker capacity with concurrent physical and cognitive demands before designing work tasks/products.

author list (cited authors)

  • Mehta, R. K., & Agnew, M. J.

citation count

  • 18

publication date

  • January 2012

published in