Fast-twitch-oxidative-glycolytic (FOG), fast-twitch-glycolytic (FG) and slow-twitch-oxidative (SO) fibres are distributed within and among physiological extensor muscles in mammals in predictable patterns. Deep muscles and the deep portions of extensor muscles are primarily composed of SO and FOG fibres, and the more peripheral portions of the muscles have higher concentrations of FG fibres. During terrestrial locomotion, the fibres are recruited in this same general order from postural standing through high speed running to jumping (i.e. during standing deep SO fibres are active and during locomotion there is a progressive peripheral recruitment of fibres from SO to FOG to FG). Several metabolic indicators may be used to map these fibre recruitment patterns, including glycogen loss in fibres, metabolic enzyme changes during training at different speeds, and distribution of blood flow within and among the muscles. Concerning the latter, during standing in rats blood flows in the hindlimb muscles are directly proportional to the SO fibre populations in the muscles. However, during locomotion the elevations in blood flow over pre-exercise are a function of the populations of FOG fibres in the muscles. Blood flows in the peripheral white portions (FG fibres) of extensor muscles are not significantly elevated until the rats run at high speeds, when the FG fibres presumably are recruited. During swimming, when flexor muscles are relatively more active than extensor muscles (as compared with terrestrial locomotion), blood flows in the flexors are correspondingly higher. Thus, there exists a clear ‘biological economy’ in the matching of blood flow to the specific fibres that are active within and among muscles during exercise.

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