Lower extremity muscle activation and knee flexion during a jump-landing task

J Athl Train. Jul-Aug 2012;47(4):406-13. doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-47.4.17.


Context: Decreased sagittal-plane motion at the knee during dynamic tasks has been reported to increase impact forces during landing, potentially leading to knee injuries such as anterior cruciate ligament rupture.

Objective: To describe the relationship between lower extremity muscle activity and knee-flexion angle during a jump-landing task.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Setting: Research laboratory.

Patients or other participants: Thirty recreationally active volunteers (15 men, 15 women: age = 21.63 ± 2.01 years, height = 173.95 ± 11.88 cm, mass = 72.57 ± 14.25 kg).

Intervention(s): Knee-flexion angle and lower extremity muscle activity were collected during 10 trials of a jump-landing task.

Main outcome measure(s): Simple correlation analyses were performed to determine the relationship between each knee-flexion variable (initial contact, peak, and displacement) and electromyographic amplitude of the gluteus maximus (GMAX), quadriceps (VMO and VL), hamstrings, gastrocnemius, and quadriceps : hamstring (Q : H) ratio. Separate forward stepwise multiple regressions were conducted to determine which combination of muscle activity variables predicted each knee-flexion variable.

Results: During preactivation, VMO and GMAX activity and the Q : H ratio were negatively correlated with knee-flexion angle at initial contact (VMO: r = 0.382, P = .045; GMAX: r = 0.385, P = .043; Q : H ratio: r = 0.442, P = .018). The VMO, VL, and GMAX deceleration values were negatively correlated with peak knee-flexion angle (VMO: r = 0.687, P = .001; VL: r = 0.467, P = .011; GMAX: r = 0.386, P = .043). The VMO and VL deceleration values were negatively correlated with knee-flexion displacement (VMO: r = 0.631, P = .001; VL: r = 0.453, P = .014). The Q : H ratio and GM activity predicted 34.7% of the variance in knee-flexion angle at initial contact (P = .006). The VMO activity predicted 47.1% of the variance in peak knee-flexion angle (P = .001). The VMO and VL activity predicted 49.5% of the variance in knee-flexion displacement (P = .001).

Conclusions: Greater quadriceps and GMAX activation and less hamstrings and gastrocnemius activation were correlated with smaller knee-flexion angles. This landing strategy may predispose an individual to increased impact forces due to the negative influence on knee-flexion position.

MeSH terms

  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament / physiology
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knee Injuries
  • Knee Joint / physiology*
  • Lower Extremity / physiology*
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Musculoskeletal Physiological Phenomena
  • Range of Motion, Articular*
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Young Adult