Muscle Fiber Cross-Sectional Area Is Associated with Quadriceps Strength and Rate of Torque Development after ACL Injury

Megan C. Graham, Katherine Thompson, Gregory S. Hawk, Christopher Fry, Brian Noehren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Graham, MC, Thompson, KL, Hawk, GS, Fry, CS, and Noehren, B. Muscle fiber cross-sectional area is associated with quadriceps strength and rate of torque development after ACL injury. J Strength Cond Res 38(6): e273-e279, 2024 - The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between muscle fiber type-specific properties of the vastus lateralis and quadriceps muscle performance in individuals after an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear. 26 subjects (22.0 ± 5.4 years) were included in this cross-sectional study, and all data were collected before ACL reconstruction. Quadriceps peak torque (QPT) and early (0-100 ms) and late (100-200 ms) rate of torque development (RTD) were obtained from maximal voluntary isometric quadriceps strength testing. Muscle fiber cross-sectional area (fCSA) and percent fiber type distribution (FT%) were evaluated through immunohistochemical analysis of a muscle biopsy. Between-limb differences in fiber characteristics were assessed using paired t-tests (with α-level 0.05). Relationships between fiber-specific properties and quadriceps muscle performance were determined using separate multiple linear regression analyses for ACL-injured and noninjured limbs. There were significant differences in fCSA between ACL-injured and noninjured limbs across all fiber types, but no differences in FT%. Type 1 fCSA, type 2a fCSA, and their interaction effect were the explanatory variables with the strongest relationship to all performance outcomes for the ACL-injured limb. The explanatory variables in the ACL-injured limb had a significant relationship to QPT and late RTD, but not early RTD. These findings suggest that QPT and late RTD are more heavily influenced by fCSA than FT% in ACL-injured limbs. This work serves as a foundation for the development of more specific rehabilitation strategies aimed at improving quadriceps muscle function before ACL reconstruction or for individuals electing nonsurgical management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E273-E279
JournalJournal of Strength and Conditioning Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 NSCA National Strength and Conditioning Association. All rights reserved.


  • ACL tear
  • fiber size
  • knee
  • rate of force development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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