Morphology of hamstring torque-time curves following ACL injury and reconstruction: mechanisms and implications

J Orthop Res. 2011 Jun;29(6):907-14. doi: 10.1002/jor.21306. Epub 2011 Jan 21.


The purposes of this study were (i) to examine the effects of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) status on hamstring force steadiness, peak hamstring strength, quadriceps (antagonist) activation, and physical performance, and (ii) to evaluate the associations of physical performance with hamstring steadiness and hamstring strength. Thirteen subjects with unilateral deficiency of the ACL (ACLD), 39 matched subjects with unilateral reconstructed ACL (ACLR; n = 25 with bone-patella tendon-bone (ACLR-PT) graft and n = 14 with combined semitendinosus and gracilis tendon (ACLR-STGT) graft) and 33 control subjects participated. Each subject performed maximal-effort isokinetic knee flexion repetitions at 180° s(-1) with electromyography (EMG) electrodes attached to their medial and lateral quadriceps muscles. Physical performance was assessed using the single-limb long hop for distance. Wavelet-derived mean instantaneous frequency (Mif) of flexor torque-time curves was significantly (p < 0.05) higher (i.e., less smooth) in ACLR-STGT subjects compared to the ACLD, ACLR-PT and control subjects. No significant differences existed for peak hamstrings strength (i.e., peak torque produced) or quadriceps antagonist EMG activity. Positive correlations were identified between hamstrings force steadiness and quadriceps antagonist activity for ACLD (r = 0.797), ACLR-PT (r = 0.467), and ACLR-STGT (r = 0.628) subjects. For ACLR-STGT subjects, reduced hamstrings force steadiness associated with poorer long-hop performance (r = -0.695). Reduced steadiness amongst ACLR-STGT subjects may reflect motor output variability of the antagonist (i.e., quadriceps dyskinesia) and/or agonist musculature-a maladaptive feature which potentially contributes to poorer single-limb hop performance. Measures of hamstring force steadiness in combination with traditional measures of peak hamstring strength provide valuable clinical information regarding knee joint function following ACL injury/ACLR.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries*
  • Bone-Patellar Tendon-Bone Grafting
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knee Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Knee Injuries / surgery
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology*
  • Recovery of Function
  • Young Adult