Purpose We aimed to examine the morphological characteristics of the thigh and psoas major muscles in sprinters as well as interrelations among their muscularity, hip joint mechanics, and running speed during maximal running. Methods T1-weighted magnetic resonance images of the thigh and trunk were obtained from 15 male sprinters (best 100-m sprint times, 10.63-11.57 s) and 12 untrained men. From the magnetic resonance images, the volumes of each of the quadriceps femoris and hamstrings, total adductors, sartorius, tensor fasciae latae, gracilis, and psoas major were determined. For sprinters, the kinetic and kinematic data were measured using a three-dimensional motion capture system and force plates during maximal running. The data for one step from the foot strike of the stance leg to that of the swing leg were analyzed. The center of gravity (CG) velocity and hip joint kinetics were quantified. Results Compared with untrained men, sprinters had significantly greater thigh muscle volumes of the hip flexors and extensors, total adductors, gracilis, and psoas major, whereas the monoarticular knee extensor and flexor thigh muscle volumes were similar between the two groups. The CG velocity was positively correlated with the hip flexion angular impulse. Only the rectus femoris volume was significantly correlated with the CG velocity and peak hip flexion moment for the swing leg (r = 0.66-0.69). Conclusions The sprinters in this study presented greater muscularity of the thigh and psoas major but not the monoarticular knee extensor or flexor muscles. The rectus femoris, in particular, may play an important role during the swing phase of sprinting.
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