A Cross-Sectional Observation on Maximal Eccentric Hamstring Strength in 7- to 15-Year-Old Competitive Alpine Skiers

Biology (Basel). 2021 Nov 3;10(11):1128. doi: 10.3390/biology10111128.


Severe knee injuries are common in alpine skiing and the hamstring muscles are known to counteract the anterior tibial displacement that typically accompanies major injury mechanisms. This study aimed to assess the Maximal Eccentric Hamstring Strength (MEHS) of youth competitive alpine skiers during Nordic Hamstring Exercise (NHE) in terms of dependence of sex, age and biological maturation. A total of 246 7- to 15-year-old skiers were tested with respect to their MEHS using an NHE-based measurement device (Vald Performance, Newstead, Australia). Significantly greater absolute MEHS was observed in skiers of the under 15 years (U15) category compared to skiers under 10 years old (U10) (227.9 ± 61.1 N vs. 142.6 ± 28.9 N; p < 0.001), also when grouped by sex. Absolute MEHS was revealed to be lower in U15 females compared to males (213.5 ± 49.0 N vs. 241.9 ± 68.4 N; p = 0.001); in U10 skiers there was no sex difference. For all age groups and sexes, absolute MEHS values were significantly correlated with age and biological maturation (p < 0.001). However, when normalized to body weight such associations disappeared, which is why this is strongly recommended when testing around their growth spurt. Overall, this study established sport-specific normative reference data that may be of interest to researchers and sport practitioners alike.

Keywords: athletes; biological maturity status; conditioning; injury prevention; neuromuscular performance; physical fitness; skiing; testing.