Background: Medial knee collapse can signal an underlying movement issue that, if uncorrected, can lead to a variety of knee injuries. Placing a band around the distal thigh may act as a proprioceptive aid to minimize medial collapse of the knee during squats; however, little is known about EMG and biomechanics in trained and untrained individuals during the squat with an elastic band added.
Hypothesis/purpose: To investigate the effects of the TheraBand® Band Loop on kinematics and muscle activity of the lower extremity during a standard barbell back squat at different intensities in both trained and untrained individuals.
Study design: Cross-sectional, repeated measures.
Methods: Sixteen healthy, male, university aged-participants were split into two groups of eight, consisting of a trained and untrained group. Participants performed both a 3-repetition maximum (3-RM) and a bodyweight load squat for repetitions to failure. Lower extremity kinematics and surface electromyography of four muscles were measured bilaterally over two sessions, an unaided squat and a band session (band loop placed around distal thighs). Medial knee collapse, measured as a knee width index, and maximum muscle activity were calculated.
Results: During the 3-RM, squat weight was unaffected by band loop intervention (p = 0.486) and the trained group lifted more weight than the untrained group (p<0.007). The trained group had a greater squat depth for both squat conditions, regardless of the band (p = 0.0043). Knee width index was not affected by the band during the eccentric phase of bodyweight squats in the trained (band: 0.76 ± 0.08, no band: 0.73 ± 0.08) or untrained group (band: 0.77 ± 0.70, no band: 0.75 ± 0.13) (p = 0.670). During the concentric phase, knee width index was significantly lower for 3-RM squats, regardless of group.
Conclusion: Despite minimal changes in kinematics for the untrained group, increased muscle activity with the band loop may suggest that a training aid may, over time, lead to an increase in barbell squat strength by increasing activation of agonist muscles more than traditional, un-banded squats. Greater maximal muscle activity in most muscles during band loop sessions may provide enhanced knee stability via increased activation of stabilizing muscles.
Level of evidence: 3.
Keywords: Elastic resistance; TheraBand; electromyography; kinematics; knee valgus; squat.