Involvement of eccentric muscle actions in giant slalom racing

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BERG, H. E., O. EIKEN, and P. A. TESCH. Involvement of eccentric muscle actions in giant slalom racing. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 27, No. 12, pp. 1666–1670, 1995. Joint angular movements and muscle activation (EMG), were determined in male elite racers while performing the giant slalom. Movement cycles averaged 3.5 ± 0.6 s (left plus right turn), and knee angle ranged 66–114° (180° = straight leg). Knee extensor muscle use was dominated (rectified EMG; P < 0.05) by the leg controlling the outside (downhill) ski during the turn. Time spent while decreasing knee angle (eccentric muscle action) of outside leg averaged 1.0 ± 0.2 s. This phase was longer (P < 0.05) than the average push-off (concentric muscle action) phase of 0.5 ± 0.1 s. Moreover, EMG activity of the outside leg during eccentric muscle actions exceeded (P < 0.05) that of concentric actions and was similar to that attained during maximum isometric knee extension in laboratory tests. Knee and hip angular movement ranged 20–50°. Average joint velocities equalled 20–40°-s-1 during the turning phase. Thus, competitive giant slalom skiing is dominated by slow eccentric muscle actions performed at near maximum voluntary force. Because of their greater ability to generate force, eccentric muscle actions may be warranted or even required to resist the G-forces induced during the turn phase.

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