OSTERNIG, L. R., J. HAMILL, J. E. LANDER, and R. ROBERTSON. Co-activation of sprinter and distance runner muscles in isokinetic exercise. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 18, No. 4, pp. 431–435, 1986. The purpose of this study was to investigate the extent of co-activation of quadriceps and hamstring musculature in sprinters and distance runners. Nine female intercollegiate track athletes performed maximal knee extensions and flexions on a modified orthotron isokinetic dynamometer at two speeds (100V and 400V s-1). Simultaneous recordings of torque, joint position, and agonist/antagonist electromyographic activity from the quadriceps and hamstrings were computer-processed. The results revealed the hamstrings to be considerably more active during knee extension than the quadriceps during flexion. The integrated electromyographic activity of co-contracting hamstrings and quadriceps, throughout the joint range, averaged 33 and 6%, respectively, of the same muscle group during its agonist phase. Hamstring co-activation increased sharply during the last 25% of knee extension, generating 58% of the integrated electromyographic agonist activity. Co-activation of the sprinters' hamstrings was four times that of distance runners (57/14%), however, the faster speed of movement (400V s-1) increased hamstring co-activation of distance runners more acutely than sprinters in the final phase of extension. The data suggest that the hamstrings are used to a much greater extent than quadriceps for limb deceleration and that the distraction of antagonist muscle tension should be considered when analyzing agonist isokinetic torques. Furthermore, the relatively high co-activation of the hamstrings, particularly during the last 25% of extension, may induce hamstring soreness or strain in vulnerable subjects.
©1986The American College of Sports Medicine