Knee muscle strength in elite male gymnasts

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 1995 Jul;22(1):10-7. doi: 10.2519/jospt.1995.22.1.10.


This study was launched to establish the profile of knee dynamic concentric strength in elite male gymnasts after it was found that three of the 10-member Canadian men's gymnastics team had incurred anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture. The dynamic concentric force characteristics of the quadriceps and hamstring muscles of 84 male gymnasts were studied at the Canadian National Championships using a Kin-Com isokinetic dynamometer. These tests were performed at 90 degrees/sec and 230 degrees/sec and revealed that the hamstrings to quadriceps peak torque ratio was not only unusually low (0.5) when compared with data collected in previous research, but that this ratio was consistent across all ages, from 12 to 27 years. The torque ratios were also reported at 30 degrees, 45 degrees, and 60 degrees and it was found that the ratios decreased as the joint angle increased and again was consistent across the four age groups. It was also found that the hamstrings to quadriceps peak torque ratio did not increase (hamstrings becoming stronger relative to quadriceps) as velocity of movement increased as has been reported in other studies. It was hypothesized that the large shear forces that are generated about the knee in gymnastics (extrinsically from backward landing and intrinsically from the quadriceps eccentrically contracting), combined with the relatively weak hamstrings, could be one cause for the increasing incidence of ACL injuries in that sport. The results of this study indicate that it would be prudent for clinicians involved with gymnasts to test for knee strength imbalance and to prescribe exercises to correct it when necessary.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries
  • Child
  • Gymnastics / injuries
  • Gymnastics / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / physiology
  • Knee*
  • Male
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Reference Values