Impact of exercise selection on hamstring muscle activation
MetadataShow full item record
Objective: To determine which strength training exercises selectively activate the biceps femoris long head (BFLongHead) muscle. Methods: We recruited 24 recreationally active men for this two-part observational study. Part 1: We explored the amplitudes and the ratios of lateral (BF) to medial hamstring (MH) normalised electromyography (nEMG) during the concentric and eccentric phases of 10 common strength training exercises. Part 2: We used functional MRI (fMRI) to determine the spatial patterns of hamstring activation during two exercises which (1) most selectively and (2) least selectively activated the BF in part 1. Results: Eccentrically, the largest BF/MH nEMG ratio occurred in the 45° hip-extension exercise; the lowest was in the Nordic hamstring (Nordic) and bent-knee bridge exercises. Concentrically, the highest BF/MH nEMG ratio occurred during the lunge and 45° hip extension; the lowest was during the leg curl and bent-knee bridge. fMRI revealed a greater BF(LongHead) to semitendinosus activation ratio in the 45° hip extension than the Nordic (p<0.001). The T2 increase after hip extension for BFLongHead, semitendinosus and semimembranosus muscles was greater than that for BFShortHead (p<0.001). During the Nordic, the T2 increase was greater for the semitendinosus than for the other hamstring muscles (p≤0.002). Summary: We highlight the heterogeneity of hamstring activation patterns in different tasks. Hip-extension exercise selectively activates the long hamstrings, and the Nordic exercise preferentially recruits the semitendinosus. These findings have implications for strategies to prevent hamstring injury as well as potentially for clinicians targeting specific hamstring components for treatment (mechanotherapy).
British Journal of Sports Medicine
© The Author(s) 2017. This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. It is posted here with permission of the copyright owner(s) for your personal use only. No further distribution permitted. For information about this journal please refer to the publisher’s website or contact the author(s).
Human Movement and Sports Science not elsewhere classified