Purposes: The present study investigated whether a combination of the thickness and hardness of muscles without muscle tension can be used to estimate muscle strength during knee extension in adult males and females. Methods: Seventy-two males and thirty-three females, whose ages ranged from 18 to 35 years, participated in this study. We measured muscle thickness and hardness in the right anterior region of the thigh (rectus femoris muscle and vastus intermedius muscle) without muscle tension using an ultrasound muscle hardness meter, and the maximal voluntary isometric contraction of right knee extension (MVIC). The changing ratios (%) of the tissue thickness before compression to those during compression (compression ratio) are calculated as an index of the hardness. Higher ratio indicates a harder muscle compared with that of other individuals showing the same muscle thickness. Results: In male group, although the MVIC had significantly positive correlation to both muscle thickness (r=0.412, p<0.01) and compression ratio (r=0.233, p<0.05), their variables also had correlation mutually. In the female group, the MVIC has significantly positive correlation to only compression ratio (r=0.499, p<0.01), not muscle thickness (r=0.225, n.s.). On multiple linear regression analysis, the combination of two parameters (muscle thickness and compression ratio) allowed more accurate estimation of MVIC (r=0.573, p<0.01) in the female group. Conclusion: These findings suggested that the combination of muscle thickness and hardness is capable of effectively estimating muscle strength especially in females.
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