Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research
This study evaluated gender differences in the magnitude and timing of hamstring and quadriceps activation during activities that are believed to cause anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries. Twelve men (age = 21.0 ± 1.2 years; body mass = 81.61 ± 13.3 kg; and jump height = 57.61 ± 10.15 cm) and 12 women (age = 19.91 ± 0.9 years; body mass = 64.36 ± 6.14 kg; and jump height = 43.28 ± 7.5) performed 3 repetitions each of the drop jump (jump) normalized to the subject's vertical jump height, and a sprint and cut at a 45-degree angle (cut). Electromyography (EMG) was used to quantify rectus femoris (RF), vastus lateralis (VL), vastus medialis (VM), lateral hamstring (LH), and medial hamstrings (MH) activation, timing, activation ratios, and timing ratios before and after foot contact for the jump and cut and normalized to each subject's hamstring and quadriceps maximum voluntary isometric contraction. Data were analyzed using an analysis of variance with results demonstrating that during the postcontact phase of the cut, men demonstrated greater LH and MH activation than women. In the precontact phase of the jump, men showed earlier activation of the VL and VM, than women. Women produced longer RF and VM muscle bursts during the postcontact phase of the cut. Additionally, men showed a trend toward higher hamstring to quadriceps activation ratio than women for the postcontact phase of the cut. This study provides evidence that men are LH dominant during the postcontact phase of the cut compared with women, whereas women sustain RF activation longer than men during this phase. Men activate quadriceps muscles earlier than women in the precontact phase of the jump. Training interventions may offer the potential for increasing the rate and magnitude of hamstring muscle activation. These outcomes should be evaluated using EMG during movements that are similar to those that cause ACL injuries to determine if gender differences in muscle activation can be reduced.