European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 118, Issue 5, pp 899–910 | Cite as

Exercise-induced fatigue in young people: advances and future perspectives

  • Dimitrios A. Patikas
  • Craig A. Williams
  • Sébastien Ratel
Invited Review



In recent decades, the interest for exercise-induced fatigue in youth has substantially increased, and the effects of growth on the peripheral (muscular) and central (neural) mechanisms underpinning differences in neuromuscular fatigue between healthy children and adults have been described more extensively. The purpose of this review is to retrieve, report, and analyse the findings of studies comparing neuromuscular fatigue between children and adults. Objective measures of the evaluation of the physiological mechanisms are discussed.


Major databases (PubMed, Ovid, Scopus and Web of Science) were systematically searched and limited to English language from inception to September 2017.


Collectively, the analyzed studies indicate that children experience less muscular and potentially more neural fatigue than adults. However, there are still many unknown aspects of fatigue regarding neural (supraspinal and spinal) and peripheral mechanisms that should be more thoroughly examined in children.


Suitable methods, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation, transcranial electrical stimulation, functional magnetic resonance imaging, near-infrared spectroscopy, tendon vibration, H-reflex, and ultrasound are recommended in the research field of fatigue in youth. By designing studies that test the fatigue effects in movements that replicate daily activities, new knowledge will be acquired. The linkage and interaction between physiological, cognitive, and psychological aspects of human performance remain to be resolved in young people. This can only be successful if research is based on a foundation of basic research focused on the mechanisms of fatigue while measuring all three above aspects.


Fatigue Children Etiology Perspectives 



Central nervous system




Magnetic resonance imaging


Muscle–tendon unit


Maximum voluntary contraction


Near-infrared spectroscopy




Persistent inward currents


Surface electromyography


Transcranial magnetic stimulation


Voluntary activation


Author contributions

DP, CW, and SR wrote the manuscript. All authors read and approved the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors report no conflict of interest. This work is known to and agreed by the co-authors identified on the manuscript’s title page.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dimitrios A. Patikas
    • 1
  • Craig A. Williams
    • 2
  • Sébastien Ratel
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Physical Education and Sport Science, School of Physical Education and Sport ScienceAristotle University of ThessalonikiThessalonikiGreece
  2. 2.Children’s Health and Exercise Research Centre, Sport and Health Sciences, College of Life and Environmental SciencesUniversity of ExeterExeterUK
  3. 3.Clermont Auvergne UniversityAME2PClermont-FerrandFrance

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