Comparison of hamstring neuromechanical properties between healthy males and females and the influence of musculotendinous stiffness

  • Troy Blackburn J
  • Bell D
  • Norcross M
 et al. 
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Abstract

The hamstrings limit anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) loading, and neuromuscular control of these muscles is crucial for dynamic knee joint stability. Sex differences in electromechanical delay (EMD) and rate of force production (RFP) have been reported previously, and attributed to differences in musculotendinous stiffness (MTS). These characteristics define the neuromechanical response to joint perturbation, and sex differences in these characteristics may contribute to the greater female ACL injury risk. However, it is unclear if these differences exist in the hamstrings, and the relationship between MTS and neuromechanical function has not been assessed directly. Hamstring MTS, EMD, the time required to produce 50% peak force (Time50%), and RFP were assessed in 20 males and 20 females with no history of ACL injury. EMD did not differ significantly across sex (p = 0.788). However, MTS (p < 0.001) and RFP (p = 0.003) were greater in males, Time50% (p = 0.013) was shorter in males, and Time50% was negatively correlated with MTS (r = -0.332, p = 0.039). These results suggest that neuromechanical hamstring function in females may limit dynamic knee joint stability, potentially contributing to the greater female ACL injury risk. However, future research is necessary to determine the direct influences of MTS and neuromechanical function on dynamic knee joint stability and ACL injury risk. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Electromechanical delay
  • Gender
  • Rate of force production

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