Quadriceps Muscle Function during Recreational Alpine Skiing

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010 Aug;42(8):1545-56. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181d299cf.


Purpose: Since the introduction of carving skis, muscle activity has been investigated primarily on expert-level skiers with respect to EMG intensities. The three-part aim of this recreational skiing study was to analyze functional differences within the quadriceps muscle, to analyze the topographical influence, and to apply a time-frequency analysis of the EMG intensities using wavelets.

Methods: Seven female subjects performed two runs through a standardized corridor on a slope with different inclinations (13 degrees , 29 degrees , and 21 degrees ). Knee angle and EMG of vastus lateralis (VL) and rectus femoris (RF) of the right leg were measured during the runs. The recorded EMG signal was resolved with a set of 10 wavelets (11-432 Hz) into a time-frequency space. Subsequently, the EMG intensity and mean frequency (MF) were calculated for different time windows (inside leg; outside leg).

Result: For RF, a significantly higher MF (+15.5%, P = 0.009) but similar EMG intensities were detected in the inside leg compared with the outside leg. For VL, the MF (-9.6%, P = 0.053) and EMG intensities (-54.3%, P = 0.010) were lower in the inside leg compared with the outside leg. Both muscles responded with higher EMG intensities on increasing slope inclination (VL = 90.8%, P = 0.022; RF = 115%, P = 0.01). MF is not directly related to inclination.

Conclusions: Contrary to previously suggested coloading of the inside leg while carving, our results do not support this hypothesis for VL. However, the functional demand for RF in the inside leg is very high when skiing recreationally. The ability of a situation-dependent loading (RF as knee extensor) and unloading (RF as hip flexor) of the inside leg seems to be a crucial point with respect to specific fatigue during a skiing day.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knee / physiology
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Muscle Fatigue / physiology
  • Quadriceps Muscle / physiology*
  • Skiing / physiology*
  • Young Adult