Context: Central activation ratio (CAR) is a common outcome measure used to quantify gross neuromuscular function of the quadriceps using the superimposed burst technique, yet this outcome measure has not been validated in the gluteal musculature. Objective: To quantify gluteus medius (GMed) and gluteus maximus (GMax) CAR in a healthy population and evaluate its validity and reliability over a 1-week period. Design: Descriptive. Setting: Laboratory. Patients or Other Participants: A total of 20 healthy participants (9 males and 11 females; age 22.2 [1.4] y, height 173.4 [11.1] cm, mass 84.8 [25.8] kg) were enrolled in this study. Interventions: Participants were assessed at 2 sessions, separated by 1 week. Progressive electrical stimuli (25%, 50%, 75%, and 100%) were delivered to the GMed and GMax at rest, and 100% stimuli were delivered during progressive hip abduction and extension contractions (25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% maximal voluntary isometric contraction). Main Outcome Measures: GMed and GMax CAR, and hip abduction and hip extension maximal voluntary isometric contraction torque. Line of best fit and coefficient of determination (r2) were used to assess the relationship between torque output and CAR at varying levels of stimuli. Intraclass correlation coefficients, ICCs(3,k), were used to assess the between-session reliability. Results: GMed CAR was 96.1% (3.4%) and 96.6% (3.2%), on visits 1 and 2, respectively, whereas GMax CAR was 86.5% (7.5%) and 87.2% (10.7%) over the 2 sessions. A third-order polynomial demonstrated the best line of fit between varying superimposed burst intensities at rest for both GMed (r2 = .156) and GMax (r2 = .602). Linear relationships were observed in the CAR during progressive contractions with a maximal superimposed burst, GMed (r2 = .409) and GMax (r2 = .639). Between-session reliability was excellent for GMed CAR, ICC(3,k) = .911, and moderate for GMax CAR, ICC(3,k) = .704. Conclusion: CAR appears to be an acceptable measure of GMed and GMax neuromuscular function in healthy individuals. Gluteal CAR measurements are reliable measures over a 1-week test period.
The authors are with the School of Exercise & Rehabilitation Sciences, The University of Toledo, Toledo, OH, USA.