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The purpose of this study was to investigate muscle activation patterns during a landing task in boys and girls through the use of muscle synergies. Electromyographical (EMG) data from six lower extremity muscles were collected from 11 boys and 16 girls while they performed single-leg drop-landings. EMG data from six leg muscles were rectified, smoothed, and normalized to maximum dynamic muscle activity during landing. Data from 100 ms before to 100 ms after touchdown were submitted to factor analyses to extract muscle synergies along with the associated activation and weighing coefficients. Boys and girls both used three muscle synergies. The activation coefficients of these synergies captured muscle activity during the pre-landing, touchdown, and post-landing phases of the single-leg drop-landing. Analysis of the weighing coefficients indicated that within the extracted muscle synergies the girls emphasized activation of the medial hamstring muscle during the pre-landing and touchdown synergy whereas boys emphasized activation of the vastus medialis during the post-landing synergy. Although boys and girls use similar muscle synergies during single-leg drop-landings, they differed in which muscles were emphasized within these synergies. The observed differences in aspects related to the muscle synergies during landing may have implications with respect to knee injury risk.

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This document was originally published by Human Kinetics in Journal of Applied Biomechanics. Copyright restrictions may apply.

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