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Coordination of hamstrings is individual specific and is related to motor performance

Abstract : The torque-sharing strategies between synergistic muscles may have important functional consequences. This study involved two experiments. The first experiment (n = 22) aimed 1) to determine the relationship between the distribution of activation and the distribution of torque-generating capacity among the heads of the hamstring, and 2) to describe individual torque-sharing strategies and to determine whether these strategies are similar between legs. The second experiment (n = 35) aimed to determine whether the distribution of activation between the muscle heads affects endurance performance during a sustained submaximal knee flexion task. Surface electromyography (EMG) was recorded from biceps femoris (BF), semimembranosus (SM), and semitendinosus (ST) during submaximal isometric knee flexions. Torque-generating capacity was estimated by measuring muscle volume, fascicle length, pennation angle, and moment arm. The product of the normalized EMG amplitude and the torque-generating capacity was used as an index of muscle torque. The distributions of muscle activation and of torque-generating capacity were not correlated significantly (all P > 0.18). Thus, there was a torque imbalance between the muscle heads (ST torque > BF and SM torque; P < 0.001), the magnitude of which varied greatly between participants. A significant negative correlation was observed between the imbalance of activation across the hamstring muscles and the time to exhaustion (P < 0.001); i.e., the larger the imbalance of activation across muscles, the lower the muscle endurance performance. Torque-sharing strategies between the heads of the hamstrings are individual specific and related to muscle endurance performance. Whether these individual strategies play a role in hamstring injury remains to be determined.
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Simon Avrillon, Gaël Guilhem, Aude Barthelemy, François Hug. Coordination of hamstrings is individual specific and is related to motor performance. Journal of Applied Physiology, American Physiological Society, 2018, 125 (4), pp.1069-1079. ⟨10.1152/japplphysiol.00133.2018⟩. ⟨hal-02983807⟩

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