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DOI

10.25035/jsmahs.06.02.04

Abstract

Purpose: Altered hip strength is a risk factor for lower extremity injury but its relationship to biomechanical dysfunction is debated. Hip strength assessment methods are criticized for using unidirectional, non-weight-bearing positions which may not be representative of athletic activity and may affect comparison to biomechanical analysis of athletic tasks. A weight-bearing task may better represent hip muscle function during these movements. The aim of this study was to identify EMG and force differences for a clinical weight-bearing method of hip strength (the squat-hold) to traditional non-weight-bearing maximal voluntary isometric contractions (MVICs) for hip abduction, extension, and external rotation. Methods: Twenty-nine healthy volunteers (23 female, 6 male; 23.3±5.8 years) performed the squat-hold, sidelying abduction, prone extension, and seated hip external rotation MVICs. The squat-hold was performed by exerting a bilateral, maximal force against a rigid strap encircling both knees in a semi-squatted position. Surface electromyography (EMG) recorded peak activation of the gluteus medius (GMed), gluteus maximus (Gmax), and tensor fascia lata (TFL) and a handheld dynamometer simultaneously measured force during all tasks. Peak activation was compared between the squat-hold and each MVIC using paired t-tests. Force was compared across tasks using a one-way ANOVA. Results: Greater force was observed during the squat-hold than the external rotation MVIC, but abduction and extension MVICs yielded greater force than the squat-hold. GMax activation was higher during the squat-hold than the external rotation task. TFL activation was higher during the abduction MVIC than the squat-hold but GMed activation was similar across tasks. Peak GMax activation was similar between the extension MVIC and squat-hold. Conclusions: Squat-hold force may have been reduced due to altered gluteal moment arms, which affected the length-tension relationship. Clinicians should consider the squat-hold as an alternative assessment of external rotation force, but should continue to assess abduction and extension force with MVICs. Researchers should examine positions optimizing length-tension relationships to better relate motor function and movement patterns.

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