Neuromotor control of gluteal muscles in runners with achilles tendinopathy

The aim of this study was to compare the neuromotor control of the gluteus medius (GMED) and gluteus maximus (GMAX) muscles in runners with Achilles tendinopathy to that of healthy controls. Fourteen male runners with Achilles tendinopathy and 19 healthy male runners (control) ran overground while EMG of GMED and GMAX was recorded. Three temporal variables were identified via visual inspection of EMG data: (i) onset of muscle activity (onset), (ii) offset of muscle activity (offset), and (iii) duration of muscle activity (duration). A multivariate analysis of covariance with between-subject factor of group (Achilles tendinopathy, control) and variables of onset, offset, and duration was performed for each muscle. Age, weight, and height were included as covariates, and α level was set at 0.05. The Achilles tendinopathy group demonstrated a delay in the activation of the GMED relative to heel strike (P < 0.001) and a shorter duration of activation (P < 0.001) compared to that of the control group. GMED offset time relative to heel strike did not vary between the groups (P = 0.063). For GMAX, the Achilles tendinopathy group demonstrated a delay in its onset (P = 0.008), a shorter duration of activation (P = 0.002), and earlier offset (P < 0.001) compared to the control group.

This study provided preliminary evidence of altered neuromotor control of the GMED and GMAX muscles in male runners with Achilles tendinopathy. Despite the need for further prospective studies to discern the causal nature of this relationship, this study highlighted the importance of accounting for neuromotor control of the gluteal muscles in the assessment and management of patients with Achilles tendinopathy.