Biceps Femoris Aponeurosis Size: A Potential Risk Factor for Strain Injury?

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Abstract

Purpose

A disproportionately small biceps femoris long head (BFlh) proximal aponeurosis has been suggested as a risk factor for hamstring strain injury by concentrating mechanical strain on the surrounding muscle tissue. However, the size of the BFlh aponeurosis relative to BFlh muscle size, or overall knee flexor strength, has not been investigated. This study aimed to examine the relationship of BFlh proximal aponeurosis area with muscle size (maximal anatomical cross-sectional area (ACSAmax)) and knee flexor strength (isometric and eccentric).

Methods

Magnetic resonance images of the dominant thigh of 30 healthy young males were analyzed to measure BFlh proximal aponeurosis area and muscle ACSAmax. Participants performed maximum voluntary contractions to assess knee flexion maximal isometric and eccentric torque (at 50° s−1 and 350° s−1).

Results

BFlh proximal aponeurosis area varied considerably between participants (more than fourfold, range = 7.5–33.5 cm2, mean = 20.4 ± 5.4 cm2, coefficient of variation = 26.6%) and was not related to BFlh ACSAmax (r = 0.04, P = 0.83). Consequently, the aponeurosis/muscle area ratio (defined as BFlh proximal aponeurosis area divided by BFlh ACSAmax) exhibited sixfold variability, being 83% smaller in one individual than another (0.53 to 3.09, coefficient of variation = 32.5%). Moreover, aponeurosis size was not related to isometric (r = 0.28, P = 0.13) or eccentric knee flexion strength (r = 0.24, P ≥ 0.20).

Conclusion

BFlh proximal aponeurosis size exhibits high variability between healthy young men, and it was not related to BFlh muscle size or knee flexor strength. Individuals with a relatively small aponeurosis may be at increased risk of hamstring strain injury.

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