Timing of neuromuscular activation of the quadriceps and hamstrings prior to landing in high school male athletes, female athletes, and female non-athletes

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Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology


There is a discrepancy between males and females in regards to lower extremity injury rates, particularly at the knee [Agel, J., Arendt, E.A., Bershadsky, B., 2005. Anterior cruciate ligament injury in National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball and soccer: a 13-year review. American Journal of Sports Medicine 33, (4) 524-530]. Gender differences in neuromuscular recruitment characteristics of the muscles that stabilize the knee are often implicated as a factor in this discrepancy. There is considerable research in the area of gender differences in regards to neuromuscular characteristics of the lower extremity in response to perturbation; however, most studies have been performed on the adult population only. Additionally, there is no consensus as to the gender differences that have been demonstrated. The purpose of this study was to compare muscular preactivation of selected lower extremity muscles (vastus medialis, rectus femoris, and medial/lateral hamstrings) in adolescent female basketball athletes, male basketball athletes, and female non-athletes in response to a drop landing. Subjects in the female non-athlete group recruited rectus femoris significantly slower than both the female athlete and male athlete groups (619.9 = 588.5 > 200.1 ms prior to ground contact). The female non-athlete group also demonstrated a significantly slower vastus medialis compared to the female athlete group (127.1 vs 408.1 ms), but not significantly slower than the male athlete group (127.1 vs 275.7 ms). There were no differences between female athletes and male athletes for time to initial contraction of any muscle groups. No differences were found among the groups for medial or lateral hamstring activation. This study demonstrates that physical conditioning due to basketball participation appears to affect neuromuscular recruitment in adolescents and reveals a necessity to find alternate methods of training the hamstrings for improved neuromuscular capabilities to prevent injury. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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