Objective The aim of the present study was to analyse differences in muscle response and mechanical characteristics of the vastus medialis (VM), rectus femoris (RF), vastus lateralis (VL) and biceps femoris (BF) in elite volleyball players of both sexes using tensiomyography (TMG).
Setting 47 players of nine nationalities playing in teams belonging to the men's and women's Spanish Superleagues (elite division) were assessed.
Participants 22 women (age 24.59±4.27 years; weight 72.14±10.06 kg; height 178.40±8.50 cm) and 25 men (age 25.04±4.29 years; weight 88.76±9.07 kg; height 194.71±7.84 cm).
Methods TMG was used to assess muscular response, muscular mechanical characteristics, and gender differences. For this purpose, the following variables were analysed: maximum radial displacement of muscle belly or maximum deformation (Dm), and normalised response speed (Vrn).
Results The findings show, both in men and women, a higher normalised response speed (Vrn) score in the VL and VM compared to the RF and BF. A marked lateral symmetry of maximum radial deformation or displacement of the muscle belly (Dm) was also observed in the musculature of the lower limbs, with no statistically-significant differences being detected in either men or women. There were, however, clear differences in terms of muscle response between male and female volleyball players: women displayed a more pronounced difference in the Vrn of the musculature responsible for extension (VM, RF and VL) and flexion (BF) of the knee joint than men.
Conclusions TMG proved to be a highly sensitive tool for detecting changes in lower limb muscle activity.