Quadriceps and Hamstrings Muscle Control in Athletic Males and Females

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The aim of this study was to investigate whether athletic males and females have differences in their quadriceps and hamstrings muscle control strategies. Twenty-four people (12 males, 12 females) active in level I activities volunteered to participate. The subjects' muscle control strategies were studied using electromyography and a target matching protocol that assesses one's ability to produce force with control. The degree of control exhibited in the subjects' quadriceps and hamstrings muscle activation strategies was evaluated by calculating specificity indices for each muscle using circular statistics. Females displayed significantly lower specificity than males in their vastus medialis (p < 0.001), rectus femoris (p = 0.044), and lateral hamstrings (p = 0.001) muscle activity patterns, but similar specificity in their vastus lateralis and medial hamstrings activity patterns. Females also used a significantly higher magnitude of vastus lateralis (p < 0.001) and vastus medialis (p < 0.001) muscle activity than males to achieve the same relative force level. These findings indicate athletic males and females have differences in their knee muscle control strategies. © 2008 Orthopaedic Research Society. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Orthop Res 26:800-808, 2008

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