July 2013

Knee brace use alters lower extremity muscle activation during jump landing

In the moment: Knee

By Jordana Bieze Foster

Wearing a functional knee brace significantly alters activation characteristics in several lower extremity muscles, according to research from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville presented in late June at the NATA meeting.

Investigators analyzed lower extremity electromyographic (EMG) activity in 24 healthy young adult volunteers (16 women) as they performed a drop landing task with and without a functional knee brace on the dominant limb. The task involved jumping off a 30.5-cm box, landing on both feet, and immediately performing a maximum vertical jump. Surface EMG data were collected from the lumbar paraspinals, gluteus medius, vastus lateralis, biceps femoris, medial gastrocnemius, peroneus brevis, and tibialis anterior muscles.

The researchers found that the magnitude of tibialis anterior activation 50 ms prior to contact was significantly lower with the brace than without. In addition, the medial gastrocnemius and gluteus medius muscles were activated for a significantly longer percentage of total foot contact time with the brace than without. There were no other significant effects of bracing.


Melinchak M, Donovan L, Hertel J, Hart JM. Lower extremity muscle activity while wearing a functional knee brace. Presented at the National Athletic Trainers’ Association 64th Annual Meeting and Clinical Symposia, Las Vegas, June 2013.

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