PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of hamstring fatigue induced by repeated maximal efforts on hamstring muscle function during maximal sprint running.
METHODS: Twelve subjects performed three maximal 40-m sprints during which time high-speed film of the subjects' sprint action and EMG of five lower extremity muscles were recorded (nonfatigued condition, NFC). Subjects then performed specific and general hamstring fatigue tasks followed by three final 40-m sprints (fatigued condition, FC) during which time high-speed film and EMG of the same muscles were again recorded.
RESULTS: Statistical analysis of the kinematic data indicated the following significant (P < 0.05) changes in the subjects' running action from the NFC to the FC: decreased hip and knee flexion at maximum knee extension in the swing phase of the sprint cycle, decreased leg angular velocity immediately before foot-ground contact (FGC), and decreased angular displacement of the trunk, thigh, and leg segments during the late swing phase. Statistical analysis of the EMG data indicated a significant increase in the duration of hamstring activity and earlier cessation of rectus femoris activity during the swing phase of the sprint stride.
CONCLUSIONS: It was concluded that these changes in the kinematic and EMG parameters of sprint running primarily served as protective mechanisms to reduce stress placed on the hamstring muscles at critical phases of the stride cycle.