Loughborough University
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Neuromechanics of explosive performance for movement control and joint stabilisation

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posted on 2018-01-17, 09:15 authored by Fearghal Behan
The broad aim of this thesis was to progress understanding of the neuromechanics of joint stability and injury mechanisms by investigating the interactions between neuromuscular function and balance perturbations as well as the influence of sex and fatigue on these variables. Knee extensor (KE) and plantar flexor (PF) isometric strength parameters (maximum voluntary torque (MVT), explosive voluntary torque (EVT)) were related in young healthy adults. EVT of KE and PF were correlated at 4/5 time points during the rising torque-time curve for all absolute (r = 0.488-0.755) and relative (to body mass (BM) (r = 0.517-0.669) and MVT (r = 0.353-0.480)) expressions of EVT. These results suggest that KE and PF function is related for both maximum and explosive torque. Males were stronger for KE (+89%) and PF (+55%) than females. Males also displayed greater EVT at all time points in KE (+57-109%) and at 50-150 ms in PF (+33-52%). When MVT and EVT were normalised to BM, males continued to be stronger at all time points in KE (+23-60%) and from 100-150 ms (18-20%) in PF. No sex differences were found when EVT was normalised to MVT. Furthermore, sex differences were discovered in muscle morphology. Females had a smaller knee flexor (KF):KE size ratio, a proportionately small sartorius (SA) and gracilis (GR) and a proportionately larger vastus lateralis (VL), potentially predisposing females to greater risk of ACL injury. Females had a larger biceps femoris long head (BFlh) as a proportion of the KF than males, which may contribute to the higher risk of hamstring strain injury (HSI) in males. Regarding explosive performance and perturbation response, explosive PF torque had a weak to moderate correlation with COM displacement (COMD) from 400-500 ms (r = -0.346 to -0.508) and COM velocity (COMV) from 300-500 ms (r = -0.349 to -0.416), with weaker correlations between explosive KE torque and COMV at 400 ms (r = -0.381 to -0.411) but not with COMD. These findings suggest that greater explosive torque results in better control of the COM in response to unexpected perturbations. The effects of football simulated fatigue on these factors resulted in reduced maximal KF and KE torque. However, football simulated fatigue was not found to reduce EVT of either muscle group, or explosive H/Q ratio. Football simulated fatigue resulted in impaired balance response to unexpected perturbation in the posterior but not the anterior direction.


Arthritis Research UK, Centre for Sport, Exercise and Osteoarthritis.



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences


© Fearghal Behan

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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Publication date



A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.


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