Effects of Age on Vertical Jump Performance and Muscle Morphology Characteristics in Females

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The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness






Edizioni Minerva Medica

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BACKGROUND: Declines in muscle morphology and function are commonly reported as a consequence of aging. However, few studies have investigated the influence of age on a comprehensive set of muscle function-related measures (i.e., reactive strength, power, etc.) that focuses on a dynamic performance task such as the vertical jump across the adult life span. This study aimed to examine the effects of age on muscle morphology characteristics (muscle cross-sectional area [CSA] and echo intensity [EI]) and vertical jump height, power, and reactive strength index (RSI) in females. METHODS: Twenty-six young (22±2 years), 30 middle-aged (36±5 years), and 23 older (71±5 years) females participated in this study. Muscle CSA and EI were determined from ultrasound scans of the vastus lateralis. Countermovement jumps were used to assess jump height, RSI, movement time, and peak power (Pmax). RESULTS: Muscle CSA, jump height, and Pmax were higher for the young compared to the old and middle-aged (P ≤ 0.027) and for the middle-aged compared to the old (P < 0.001). Movement time and EI values were lower (P ≤ 0.004) and RSI values were higher (P < 0.001) for the young and middle-aged compared to the old; however, no differences were observed between the young and middle-aged (P=0.367-0.620). CONCLUSIONS: Of all the variables assessed in this study, RSI exhibited the greatest decline (76%) between the young and old females. Such findings highlight the importance of reactive strength when assessing age-related changes in neuromuscular performance.

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