The purpose of this study was to determine if gender differences existed in head-neck segment kinematic and dynamic stabilization variables responses to an external force application with and without neck muscle preactivation. Forty (20 females and 20 males) physically active volunteers participated in the study. The study consisted of a three-factor research design with repeated measures. The independent variables were gender (female vs. male), force application (known vs. unknown), and force direction (flexion vs. extension). The dependent variables were kinematic and EMG variables, head-neck segment stiffness (Newtons per degrees), and head-neck segment flexor and extensor isometric strength (pounds). Statistical analyses consisted of multiple multivariate analyses of variance and analyses of variance, and follow-up univariate analyses of variance and t-tests. Alpha level was set at p ≤ .05. The results of this study revealed gender differences in head-neck segment dynamic stabilization during head acceleration. Females exhibited significantly greater head neck segment peak angular acceleration (50% greater) and displacement (39% greater) than males despite initiating muscle activity significantly earlier (SCM only) and using a greater percentage of their maximum head-neck segment muscle activity (79% greater peak activity and 117% greater muscle activity area). The head-neck segment acceleration differences may be because females exhibited significantly lower levels of head-neck segment stiffness (29% less), isometric strength (49% less), neck girth (30% less), and head mass (43% less). Although the findings of this study have yet to be demonstrated in athletes, they do support the need for females to resistance train to enhance their head-neck segment dynamic stabilizers for the purpose of concussion risk reduction.
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