Repetitive movements can cause muscle fatigue, leading to motor reorganization, performance deficits, and/or possible injury. The effects of fatigue may depend on the type of fatigue task employed, however. The purpose of this study was to determine how local fatigue of a specific muscle group versus widespread fatigue of various muscle groups affected the control of movement timing. Twenty healthy subjects performed an upper extremity low-load work task similar to sawing for 5 continuous minutes both before and after completing a protocol that either fatigued all the muscles used in the task (widespread fatigue) or a protocol that selectively fatigued the primary muscles used to execute the pushing stroke of the sawing task (localized fatigue). Subjects were instructed to time their movements with a metronome. Timing error, movement distance, and speed were calculated for each movement. Data were then analyzed using a goal-equivalent manifold approach to quantify changes in goal-relevant and non-goal-relevant variability. We applied detrended fluctuation analysis to each time series to quantify changes in fluctuation dynamics that reflected changes in the control strategies used. After localized fatigue, subjects made shorter, slower movements and exerted greater control over non-goal-relevant variability. After widespread fatigue, subjects exerted less control over non-goal-relevant variability and did not change movement patterns. Thus, localized and widespread muscle fatigue affected movement differently. Local fatigue may reduce the available motor solutions and therefore cause greater movement reorganization than widespread muscle fatigue. Subjects altered their control strategies but continued to achieve the timing goal after both fatigue tasks.
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