Muscle Architecture and Neuromechanical Contributions to Athletic Performance and Injury

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This thesis examines muscle architecture and neuromechanical contributions to athletic performance and injury. To do this, two Literature Reviews (chapters 2 & 3) present an extensive analysis of the optimal muscle-tendon structural and mechanical characteristics for athletes, and the implications of mechanical contributions to muscle injury for injury risk mitigation. Study 1 provided a conceptual model and detailed framework for stress-related, strain-related, and overuse athletic injury (chapter 4). This article is focused on the concepts of tissue strength, stress and strain, and outlines the interplay between physiology and tissue mechanical properties […]. Study 2 (chapter 5) presents an examination of the relationship between lower-body myometric muscle stiffness and strength in professional rugby union and Australian footballers. The participants (n=64) were assessed for individual unilateral muscle stiffness of the rectus femoris (RF) and biceps femoris long head (BFlh) with torque and rate of torque development assessed for knee extension and flexion using isokinetic dynamometry […]. Study 3 (chapter 6) examined muscle architecture (fascicle length, pennation angle, and muscle thickness) in relation to anthropometrics and muscle force production characteristics in professional rugby union and Australian Football players. The participants (n=64) were assessed for unilateral muscle architecture measures (muscle thickness, pennation angle, and fascicle length) of the biceps femoris long head (BFlh) and vastus lateralis (VL) with isokinetic torque and rate of torque development assessed for knee extension and flexion. This study demonstrated that fascicle length, muscle thickness, pennation angle and stature are inter-related […]. Study 4 (chapter 7) investigated the relationship between measures of muscle architecture, muscle stiffness, and neuromechanical markers of athletic performance in junior level Australian Football players. This study investigated the relationship between muscle architecture, myometric muscle stiffness and athletic performance markers in 16 elite-junior male Australian Football players […]. Study 5 (chapter 8) utilised the conceptual framework presented in study 1 (chapter 4) to provide a conceptual exploration of the causal pathways between training load and injury. Here, the relation between specific training load measures and metrics, and causal pathways of gradual onset and traumatic injury were examined […]. In summary, this thesis proposed the utilisation of conceptual frameworks for facilitating research into athletic injury and performance. This resulted in the investigation of relevant research links within 3 data-based research studies, as well as a conceptual exploration into the causal pathways between training load and injury.
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