Rate of torque and electromyographic development during anticipated eccentric contraction is lower in previously strained hamstrings

Opar, David A., Williams, Morgan, Timmins, Ryan, Dear, Nuala, & Shield, Anthony (2012) Rate of torque and electromyographic development during anticipated eccentric contraction is lower in previously strained hamstrings. American Journal of Sports Medicine, 41(1), pp. 116-125.

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Background: Hamstring strain injuries are prevalent in sport and re-injury rates have been high for many years. Whilst much focus has centred on the impact of previous hamstring strain injury on maximal eccentric strength, high rates of torque development is also of interest, given the important role of the hamstrings during the terminal swing phase of running. The impact of prior strain injury on myoelectrical activity of the hamstrings during tasks requiring high rates of torque development has received little attention.

Purpose: To determine if recreational athletes with a history of unilateral hamstring strain injury, who have returned to training and competition, will exhibit lower levels of myoelectrical activity during eccentric contraction, rate of torque development and impulse 30, 50 and 100ms after the onset of myoelectrical activity or torque development in the previously injured limb compared to the uninjured limb.

Study design: Case-control study

Methods: Twenty-six recreational athletes were recruited. Of these, 13 athletes had a history of unilateral hamstring strain injury (all confined to biceps femoris long head) and 13 had no history of hamstring strain injury. Following familiarisation, all athletes undertook isokinetic dynamometry testing and surface electromyography assessment of the biceps femoris long head and medial hamstrings during eccentric contractions at -60 and -1800.s-1.

Results: In the injured limb of the injured group, compared to the contralateral uninjured limb rate of torque development and impulse was lower during -600.s-1 eccentric contractions at 50 (RTD, injured limb = 312.27 ± 191.78Nm.s-1 vs. uninjured limb = 518.54 ± 172.81Nm.s-1, p=0.008; IMP, injured limb = 0.73 ± 0.30 Nm.s vs. uninjured limb = 0.97 ± 0.23 Nm.s, p=0.005) and 100ms (RTD, injured limb = 280.03 ± 131.42Nm.s-1 vs. uninjured limb = 460.54.54 ± 152.94Nm.s-1,p=0.001; IMP, injured limb = 2.15 ± 0.89 Nm.s vs. uninjured limb = 3.07 ± 0.63 Nm.s, p<0.001) after the onset of contraction. Biceps femoris long head muscle activation was lower at 100ms at both contraction speeds (-600.s-1, normalised iEMG activity (x1000), injured limb = 26.25 ± 10.11 vs. uninjured limb 33.57 ± 8.29, p=0.009; -1800.s-1, normalised iEMG activity (x1000), injured limb = 31.16 ± 10.01 vs. uninjured limb 39.64 ± 8.36, p=0.009). Medial hamstring activation did not differ between limbs in the injured group. Comparisons in the uninjured group showed no significant between limbs difference for any variables.

Conclusion: Previously injured hamstrings displayed lower rate of torque development and impulse during slow maximal eccentric contraction compared to the contralateral uninjured limb. Lower myoelectrical activity was confined to the biceps femoris long head. Regardless of whether these deficits are the cause of or the result of injury, these findings could have important implications for hamstring strain injury and re-injury. Particularly, given the importance of high levels of muscle activity to bring about specific muscular adaptations, lower levels of myoelectrical activity may limit the adaptive response to rehabilitation interventions and suggest greater attention be given to neural function of the knee flexors following hamstring strain injury.

Impact and interest:

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14 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 54772
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: strain injury, neuromuscular function, surface electromyography
DOI: 10.1177/0363546512462809
ISSN: 1552-3365
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > HUMAN MOVEMENT AND SPORTS SCIENCE (110600) > Human Movement and Sports Science not elsewhere classified (110699)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Exercise & Nutrition Sciences
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2012 The Authors and Sage Publications
Deposited On: 15 Nov 2012 00:11
Last Modified: 30 Oct 2013 04:50

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