The simultaneous contraction of antagonists andagonists (prime movers) during the performance of a movement. It is often assumed that antagonists are inhibited during a movement (see reciprocal inhibition), but antagonist co-contraction is quite common during strong and/or rapid movements, and when precise movements are required. Antagonist co-contraction would appear to be counterproductive, especially for strength tasks. However, the ability of antagonist co-contraction to limit, by reciprocal inhibition, the action of agonists may be a protective mechanism in activities involving strong or rapid contractions. Antagonist co-contraction may also contribute to joint stability during forceful movements.
Subjects: Sports and Exercise Medicine.