Utilization of stored elastic energy in leg extensor muscles by men and women

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Abstract

KOMI, PAAVO V., AND CARMELO BOSCO. Utilization of stored elastic energy in leg extensor muscles by men and women. Med. Sci. Sports. Vol. 10, No. 4, pp. 261-265, 1978. An alternating cycle of eccentric-concentric contractions in locomotion represents a sequence when storage and utilization of elastic energy takes place. It is possible that this storage capacity and its utilization depends on the imposed stretch loads in activated muscles, and that sex differences may be present in these phenomena. To investigate these assumed differences, subjects from both sexes and of good physical condition performed vertical jumps on the force-platform from the following experimental conditions: squatting jump (SJ) from a static starting position; counter-movement jump (CMJ) from a free standing position and with a preparatory counter-movement; drop jumps (DJ) from the various heights (20 to 100 cm) on to the platform followed immediately by a vertical jump. In all subjects the SJ, in which condition no appreciable storage of elastic energy takes place, produced the lowest height of rise of the whole body center of gravity (C.G.). The stretch load (drop height) influenced the performance so that height of rise of C. of G. increased when the drop height increased from 26 up to 62 cm (males) and from 20 to 50 cm (females). In all jumping conditions the men jumped higher than the women. However, examination of the utilization of elastic energy indicated that in CMJ the female subjects were able to utilize most (⋍90%) of the energy produced in the prestretching phase. Similarly, in DJ the overall change in positive energy over SJ condition was higher in women as compared to men. Thus the results suggest that although the leg extensor muscles of the men subjects could sustain much higher stretch loads, the females may be able to utilize a greater portion of the stored elastic energy in jumping activities.

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