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Neuromuscular characteristics of recreational and competitive male and female surfers

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Abstract:

Surfing is one of the most popular sports among Australian athletes, yet data about the characteristics of its performers are sparse, most likely due to the difficulty of examining the skill during performance and the distance of the observer from the performer. To gain information about skilled surfers of both sexes, and how they differ from less skilled surfers, we assessed female and male competitive and recreational surfers, and non-surfers, on a series of laboratory tasks designed to be relevant to surfing. The findings revealed both surfing skill-related and sex-related differences. In both females and males, lower limb stiffness decreased systematically with increasing surfing expertise, consistent with the general finding on decreases in joint stiffness with increased motor skill. Leg power measured relative to body weight was substantially greater in males than females, but was not related to surfing expertise. A combined sex and skill-related kinematic difference was observed whereby recreational females used a shallower surfing crouch posture, with less knee flexion than their competitive counterparts, whereas there were no differences between recreational and competitive males. The findings call for further studies of kinematic and neuromuscular characteristics of female and male surfers at different levels of expertise.

Keywords: GENDER DIFFERENCES; MOTOR CONTROL; MOTOR LEARNING; MOVEMENT; SOCIOCULTURAL FACTORS

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2013

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