This study examined the role of mono- and biarticular muscles in control of countermovement jumps (CMJ) in different directions. It was hypothesized that monoarticular muscles would demonstrate the same activity regardless of jump direction, based on previous studies which suggest their role is to generate energy to maximize center-of-mass (CM) velocity. In contrast, biarticular activity patterns were expected to change to control the direction of the ground reaction force (GRF) and CM velocity vectors. Twelve participants performed maximal CMJs in four directions: vertical, forward, intermediate forward, and backward. Electromyographical data from 4 monoarticular and 3 biarticular lower extremity muscles were analyzed with respect to segmental kinematics and kinetics during the jumps. The biarticular rectus femoris (RF), hamstrings (HA), and gastrocnemius all exhibited changes in activity magnitude and pattern as a function of jump angle. In particular, HA and RF demonstrated reciprocal trends, with HA activity increasing as jump angle changed from backward to forward, while RF activity was reduced in the forward jump condition. The vastus lateralis and gluteus maximus both demonstrated changes in activity patterns, although the former was the only monoarticular muscle to change activity level with jump direction. Mono- and biarticular muscle activities therefore did not fit with their hypothesized roles. CM and segmental kinematics suggest that jump direction was initiated early in the countermovement, and that in each jump direction the propulsion phase began from a different position with unique angular and linear momentum. Issues that dictated the muscle activity patterns in each jump direction were the early initiation of appropriate forward momentum, the transition from countermovement to propulsion, the control of individual segment rotations, the control of GRF location and direction, and the influence of the subsequent landing.
The authors are with the Dept. of Exercise Science, Totman Bldg., University of Massachusetts–Amherst, Amherst, MA 01003-9258.