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Gender-specific neuromuscular activity of the M. peroneus longus in healthy runners — A descriptive laboratory study

      Abstract

      Background

      Gender-specific neuromuscular activity for the ankle (e.g., peroneal muscle) is currently not known. This knowledge may contribute to the understanding of overuse injury mechanisms. The purpose was therefore to analyse the neuromuscular activity of the peroneal muscle in healthy runners.

      Methods

      Fifty-three male and 54 female competitive runners were tested on a treadmill at 3.33 m s1. Neuromuscular activity of the M. peroneus longus was measured by electromyography and analysed in the time domain (onset of activation, time of maximum of activation, total time of activation) in % of stride time in relation to touchdown (=1.0). Additionally, mean amplitudes for the gait cycle phases preactivation, weight acceptance and push-off were calculated and normalised to the mean activity of the entire gait cycle.

      Findings

      Onset of activation (mean; female: 0.86/male: 0.90, p<0.0001) and time of maximum of activation (female: 1.13/male: 1.16, p<0.0001) occurred earlier in female compared to male and the total time of activation was longer in women (female: 0.42/male: 0.39, p=0.0036). In preactivation, women showed higher amplitudes (+21%) compared to men (female: 1.16/male: 0.92, p<0.0001). Activity during weight acceptance (female: 2.26/male: 2.41, p=0.0039) and push-off (female: 0.93/male: 1.07, p=0.0027) were higher in men.

      Interpretation

      Activation strategies of the peroneal muscle appear to be gender-specific. Higher preactivation amplitudes in females indicate a different neuromuscular control in anticipation of touchdown (“pre-programmed activity”). These data may help interpret epidemiologically reported differences between genders in overuse injury frequency and localisation.

      Keywords

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