Although activity of the rectus femoris (RF) differs from that of the other synergists in quadriceps femoris muscle group during physical activities in humans, it has been suggested that the activation pattern of the vastus intermedius (VI) is similar to that of the RF. The purpose of present study was to examine activation of the VI during isometric hip flexion. Ten healthy men performed isometric hip flexion contractions at 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% of maximal voluntary contraction at hip joint angles of 90° , 110° and 130° . Surface electromyography (EMG) was used to record activity of the four quadriceps femoris muscles and EMG signals were root mean square processed and normalized to EMG amplitude during an isometric knee extension with maximal voluntary contraction. The normalized EMG was significantly higher for the VI than for the vastus medialis during hip flexion at 100% of maximal voluntary contraction at hip joint angles of 110° and 130° (P <0.05). The onset of VI activation was 230-240 ms later than the onset of RF activation during hip flexion at each hip joint angle, which was significantly later than during knee extension at 100% of maximal voluntary contraction (P <0.05). These results suggest that the VI is activated later than the RF during hip flexion. Activity of the VI during hip flexion might contribute to stabilize the knee joint as an antagonist and might help to smooth knee joint motion, such as in the transition from hip flexion to knee extension during walking, running and pedaling.
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