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Eleni Bassa, Dimitrios Patikas and Christos Kotzamanidis

The deficit of muscle-force production observed in children can be partly attributed to neural factors, such as an increased level of coactivation. This hypothesis, however, has not been thoroughly investigated under concentric and eccentric isokinetic conditions at different angular velocities. Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine whether prepubescent children present higher levels of activation of the antagonist knee muscles during isokinetic, concentric, and eccentric knee efforts compared with adults. Eighteen prepubertal and 13 young adult males (age: 10.9 ± 0.5 and 18.1 ± 0.1 years, respectively) performed maximal concentric and eccentric knee extensions and flexions at 45, 90, and 180 degrees/s. The vastus lateralis and biceps femoris electromyogram was recorded and the antagonist activation (coactivation) was calculated. Concentric contractions for both groups revealed significantly higher coactivation values (p < .05) compared with the eccentric conditions. Furthermore, increasing the angular velocity increased the level of coactivation significantly only during the concentric efforts for both groups. No significant difference in the antagonistic activity of the vastus lateralis and biceps femoris, however, was found between groups. Therefore, increased antagonist knee-muscle activation, which enhances joint stabilization during isokinetic concentric and eccentric effort, is similar in both prepubescent and adult males.

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Eleni Bassa, Dimitrios Patikas, Konstantinos Hatzikotoulas and Christos Kotzamanidis

We would like to comment on the paper by Dotan et al. (8) entitled “Child-adult differences in muscle activation—a review.” Dotan et al.’s review (8) in conjunction with the commentary of O’Brien et al. (20) constitutes an important contribution to the question “who are stronger: children or adults?” based on specific force comparisons between children and adults and not on absolute values. For simplification reasons, we would like to limit the context of this question to single-joint isometric and isokinetic contractions only. Hence, we will not discuss multi-joint dynamic actions.

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Savvas N. Lazaridis, Eleni I. Bassa, Dimitrios Patikas, Konstantinos Hatzikotoulas, Filippos K. Lazaridis and Christos M. Kotzamanidis

This study examines the biomechanical differences during different vertical jump tasks in 12 prepubescent and 12 adult males. The sagittal knee kinematics, vertical ground reaction force (vGRF) and electromyographic (EMG) activity of 5 lower extremity muscles were recorded. Compared with boys, men presented higher peak vGRF during the propulsive phase in all examined jumps, but lower values during the braking phase, even when related to body mass. Normalized EMG agonist activity in all phases was higher in men (p < .05), while antagonist coactivation was enhanced in boys (p < .05). The knee joint was on average 9 degrees more flexed at touchdown in men during drop jump tasks, but boys exhibited 12 degrees and 17 degrees higher knee flexion at the deepest point when performing drop jump from 20 and 40 cm, respectively. In conclusion, the performance deficit observed in boys in all jump types is a reflection of their immature technique, which could be partly attributed to the less efficient stiffness regulation and activation of their neuromuscular system.

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K. Katsikari, Eleni Bassa, Dimitrios Skoufas, Savvas Lazaridis, Christos Kotzamanidis and Dimitrios A. Patikas

Purpose: To examine the effect of a 10-week plyometric training (PT) on the kinematic and kinetic properties of prepubescent girls during squat jump, countermovement jump, and drop jumps. Methods: Twenty-four untrained girls (aged 9–11 y) were assigned to a training group (TG) and a control group. The TG followed twice a week PT for 10 weeks. Squat jump, countermovement jump, and drop jumps performed from heights of 20, 35, and 50 cm were tested before and after PT. Jump height, kinematic, and kinetic parameters were evaluated using a motion analysis system and a force plate. Results: Jumping height in all jump types increased significantly after PT for the TG (P < .001). After training, the TG presented increased power (P < .001) and knee angular velocity (P < .001), higher knee flexion at the deepest point during the braking phase (P < .001), longer contact time (P < .001), and unchanged stiffness and reaction strength index (P > .05). No differences were observed in the control group (P > .05). Conclusion: These findings indicate that a 10-week PT positively affected jumping performance in prepubescent girls who improved their drop jump performance after training not by adopting a stiff/bouncing jumping style of short contact time and increased stiffness, but a compliant/absorbing style of prolonged contact time.

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Vasilios Armatas, Eleni Bassa, Dimitrios Patikas, Ilias Kitsas, Georgios Zangelidis and Christos Kotzamanidis

The aim of this study was to examine the fatigue and recovery in boys and men during a maximal intermittent isometric fatigue test of the knee extensor muscles, by evaluating the electromyogram of vastus lateralis, vastus medialis and biceps femoris. Thirteen boys (10.0 ± 0.8yrs) and 13 men (26.1 ± 4.2yrs) were fatigued until torque reached 50% of its initial value. Three and 6 min after, a maximal isometric knee extension test was assessed. Men had faster torque decline during fatigue and slower torque recovery compared with boys. Agonist activity declined in both groups during fatigue but men had greater extent of reduction. After 6 min boys recovered fully in respect to agonist EMG, whereas this was not the case for the men. The lower level of fatigue and faster recovery in boys could be attributed to the limited inhibition that was observed in the boys’ agonist muscles, whereas the antagonist activity does not seem to play a role in the fatigue or recovery differences between the groups.