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Quadriceps Muscle Function during Recreational Alpine Skiing


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: August 2010 - Volume 42 - Issue 8 - p 1545-1556
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181d299cf
Applied Sciences

Purpose: Since the introduction of carving skis, muscle activity has been investigated primarily on expert-level skiers with respect to EMG intensities. The three-part aim of this recreational skiing study was to analyze functional differences within the quadriceps muscle, to analyze the topographical influence, and to apply a time-frequency analysis of the EMG intensities using wavelets.

Methods: Seven female subjects performed two runs through a standardized corridor on a slope with different inclinations (13°, 29°, and 21°). Knee angle and EMG of vastus lateralis (VL) and rectus femoris (RF) of the right leg were measured during the runs. The recorded EMG signal was resolved with a set of 10 wavelets (11-432 Hz) into a time-frequency space. Subsequently, the EMG intensity and mean frequency (MF) were calculated for different time windows (inside leg; outside leg).

Result: For RF, a significantly higher MF (+15.5%, P = 0.009) but similar EMG intensities were detected in the inside leg compared with the outside leg. For VL, the MF (−9.6%, P = 0.053) and EMG intensities (−54.3%, P = 0.010) were lower in the inside leg compared with the outside leg. Both muscles responded with higher EMG intensities on increasing slope inclination (VL = 90.8%, P = 0.022; RF = 115%, P = 0.01). MF is not directly related to inclination.

Conclusions: Contrary to previously suggested coloading of the inside leg while carving, our results do not support this hypothesis for VL. However, the functional demand for RF in the inside leg is very high when skiing recreationally. The ability of a situation-dependent loading (RF as knee extensor) and unloading (RF as hip flexor) of the inside leg seems to be a crucial point with respect to specific fatigue during a skiing day.

1Department of Sport Science and Kinesiology, University of Salzburg, AUSTRIA; 2Christian Doppler Laboratory "Biomechanics in Skiing," Salzburg, AUSTRIA; 3Department of Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, CANADA; and 4Movement Science Laboratory, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT

Address for correspondence: Josef Kröll, M.S., Department of Sport Science and Kinesiology, Christian Doppler Laboratory "Biomechanics in Skiing," University of Salzburg, Rifer Schlossallee 49, 5400 Hallein/Rif, Austria; E-mail:

Submitted for publication June 2009.

Accepted for publication January 2010.

©2010The American College of Sports Medicine