Hip-Muscle Activation during the Lunge, Single-Leg Squat, and Step-Up-and-Over Exercises

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Samantha N. Boudreau
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Maureen K. Dwyer
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Carl G. Mattacola
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Christian Lattermann
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Tim L. Uhl
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Jennifer Medina McKeon
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Context:

Functional exercises are often used in strengthening programs after lower extremity injury. Activation levels of the stabilizing hip muscles have not been documented.

Objective:

To document the progression of hip-muscle activation levels during 3 lower extremity functional exercises.

Design:

Cross-sectional.

Setting:

Laboratory.

Participants:

44 healthy individuals, 22 women and 22 men.

Intervention:

Subjects, in 1 testing session, completed 3 trials each of the lunge (LUN), single-leg squat (SLSQ), and step-up-and-over (SUO) exercise.

Main Outcome Measures:

Root-mean-square muscle amplitude (% reference voluntary muscle contraction) was measured for 5 muscles during the 3 exercises: rectus femoris (RF), dominant and nondominant gluteus medius (GMed_D and GMed_ND), adductor longus (ADD), and gluteus maximus (GMX).

Results:

The RF, GMAX, and GMed_D were activated in a progression from least to greatest during the SUO, LUN, and SLSQ. The progression for the GMed_ND activation was from least to greatest during the SLSQ, SUO, and then LUN. Activation levels of the ADD showed no progression.

Conclusion:

Progressive activation levels were documented for muscles acting on the hip joint during 3 functional lower extremity exercises. The authors recommend using this exercise progression when targeting the hip muscles during lower extremity strengthening.

Boudreau, Dwyer, Mattacola, Uhl, and McKeon are with the Div of Athletic Training, and Lattermann, the Dept of Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY.

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