Effects of sex and age on quadriceps and hamstring strength and flexibility in high school basketball athletes

Takashi Nagai, Nathaniel Bates, April McPherson, Rena Hale, Timothy Hewett, Nathan D. Schilaty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Eccentric hamstring strength and hamstring/quadriceps strength ratios have been identified as modifiable risk factors of hamstring strains. Additionally, those strength and flexibility characteristics are commonly used as clinical tests to monitor progress of athletes with acute or chronic hamstring strains. Although hamstring strains are common among basketball athletes, normative values of knee strength and flexibility characteristics are scarce. Normative values for these athletes would be important in prevention and management of hamstring strains. Purpose To establish quadriceps and hamstring isokinetic strength and flexibility values among high school basketball athletes and examine the effects of sex and age. Study Design Cross-sectional research Methods Isokinetic knee muscular strength (concentric quadriceps [QuadC], concentric hamstring [HamC], eccentric hamstring [HamE], and strength ratios ([HamC/QuadC and HamE/ Quad]), flexibility of hip flexors and quadriceps during a Modified Thomas test, and flexibility of hip extensors and hamstring during passive straight leg raise (SLR) and passive knee extension (PKE) tests were measured. Effects of sex and age were analyzed using t-tests and analysis of variance, respectively with Bonferroni corrected post hoc tests (p≤0.01). Results A total of 172 high school basketball athletes (64 males/108 females; mean age (range): 15.7 (14-18) years old) participated in the study. Male athletes were significantly stronger than female athletes (QuadC: p<0.001; HamC: p<0.001) while no differences were observed in strength ratio (HamC/QuadC: p=0.759-0.816; HamE/QuadC: p=0.022-0.061). Among male athletes, a significant effect of age on quadriceps and hamstring strength was observed: older male athletes were stronger than younger male athletes. Contrarily, there were no effects of age on strength among female athletes. There were significant sex differences in quadriceps flexibility, SLR, and PKE (female athletes were more flexible; p=0.001-0.005) while no sex differences were found in hip flexor flexibility (p=0.105-0.164). There were no effects of age for any flexibility variables within male and female athletes (p=0.151-0.984). Conclusion The current results provide normative values for hamstring strength and flexibility in high school basketball athletes. These normative values may further assist sports medicine specialists to develop screening tests, interventions, and return-to-sport criteria in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1302-1312
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Sports Physical Therapy
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2021


  • Age
  • Hamstring
  • High school basketball athletes
  • Risk factors
  • Sex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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