Quadriceps strength deficits persist for years after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction, and patients with these deficits often shift torque demands away from the knee extensors to the hip during functional tasks. However, it is not clear how quadriceps strength deficits may affect hip strength. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate differences in lower extremity strength in individuals with ACL reconstruction with differing levels of quadriceps strength asymmetry.Methods
Isometric strength was recorded bilaterally in 135 participants (73 control and 62 with unilateral ACL reconstruction, time from surgery = 30.9 ± 17.6 months) from the knee extensors and flexors, hip extensors and abductors, and hip internal and external rotator muscle groups. Symmetry indices (limb symmetry index (LSI)) were created based on quadriceps strength, and subjects with ACL reconstruction were subdivided (high quadriceps (LSI ≥ 90%), n = 37; low quadriceps (LSI < 85%), n = 18). Individual group (control vs high quadriceps vs low quadriceps) by limb (reconstructed/nondominant vs healthy/dominant) repeated-measures ANOVA was used to compare strength (%BW) for each of the six joint motions of interest (knee extensors/flexors, hip abductors/extensors/external, and internal rotators) while controlling for time from surgery.Results
An interaction was observed for quadriceps strength (P < 0.001), and the reconstructed limb in the low quadriceps group was weaker than all other limbs. A main effect for group was observed with the low quadriceps group having greater hip extension (P = 0.007) strength in both limbs compared with the other groups. Knee flexion strength was weaker in the reconstructed limb of the high quadriceps group (P = 0.047) compared with all other groups and limbs.Conclusions
Individuals with ACL reconstruction and involved limb quadriceps weakness have greater hip extension strength in both limbs compared with patients with bilateral strength symmetry and controls.