Context: Sex differences in lower extremity neuromuscular function have been reported after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR). Research evidence supports different levels of fatigability in men and women and between patients with ACLR and healthy controls. The influence of sex on the response to continuous exercise in patients with ACLR is not clear. Objective: To compare quadriceps neuromuscular function after exercise between men and women with ACLR. Design: Descriptive laboratory study. Setting: Laboratory. Patients or Other Participants: Twenty-six active volunteers (13 men [50%]: age = 24.1 ± 4.4 years, height = 179.1 ± 9.8 cm, mass = 80.1 ± 9.4 kg, months since surgery = 43.5 ± 37.0; 13 women [50%]: age = 24.2 ± 5.6 years, height = 163.0 ± 5.9 cm, mass = 62.3 ± 8.3 kg, months since surgery = 45.8 ± 42.7) with a history of unilateral primary ACLR at least 6 months earlier. Intervention(s): Thirty minutes of continuous exercise comprising 5 separate 6-minute cycles, including 5 minutes of uphill walking and 1 minute of body-weight squatting and step-ups. Main Outcome Measure(s): Normalized knee-extension maximal voluntary isometric contraction torque, quadriceps superimposed-burst torque, and quadriceps central activation ratio before and after exercise. We performed separate 2 (sex: men, women) × 2 (time: preexercise, postexercise) repeated-measures analyses of variance for the 3 variables. Separate, independent-samples t tests were calculated to compare preexercise with postexercise change in all dependent variables between sexes. Results: A significant group-by-time interaction was present for knee-extension torque (P = .04). The percentage reduction in knee-extension maximal voluntary isometric contraction torque (men = 1.94%, women = -10.32%; P = .02) and quadriceps central activation ratio (men = -1.45%, women = -8.69%; P = .03) experienced by men was less than that observed in women. Conclusions: In the presence of quadriceps dysfunction, female participants experienced greater-magnitude reductions in quadriceps function after 30 minutes of exercise than male participants. This indicates a reduced ability to absorb knee-joint loads, which may have significant implications for reinjury and joint osteoarthritis in women after ACLR.
- Knee injury
- Quadriceps activation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation