Background: In volleyball, offensive (Hitters) and defensive players (Non-Hitters) perform differing actions that vary both kinematically and in terms of intensity. This may impose contrasting demands on the musculature involved in performing these actions. Previous research has identified differences in the muscle activation and contractile properties of the lower-body musculature between positions. Additionally, asymmetries between dominant and non-dominant limbs of the upper-body musculature has been observed in athletes performing overhead movements.
Purpose: The aim of this study was to use Tensiomyography (TMG) to examine the contractile properties of the shoulder musculature in elite volleyball players.
Study Design: Cross-sectional study.
Methods: Thirty-one elite volleyball players participated in this study (Age: 23 ± 2 yrs, Body Mass: 76.5 ± 9.8 kg, Stature: 181 ± 9.3 cm), 26 of which displayed right-limb dominance and five displayed left-limb dominance. Contractile properties of the shoulder musculature including the anterior deltoid (AD), biceps brachii (BB), posterior deltoid (PD), and the upper trapezius (UT) were assessed bilaterally using TMG measures on one occasion prior to any training or exercise. The contractile measures provided by TMG included the maximal displacement (Dm), contraction time (Tc), delay time (Td), sustain time (Ts), and the relaxation time (Tr).
Results: No statistically significant differences were observed between positions or limbs, except that Hitters displayed a significantly lower Ts of the left AD compared to Non-hitters ( p = 0.01, ES = 1.02), and significant differences between dominant and non-dominant sides in the Td of the UT in Non-hitters were present ( p = 0.05, ES = 0.8).
Conclusion: These data suggest that irrespective of playing position and limb dominance, contractile properties of the shoulder musculature in elite volleyball players, as measured using TMG, display few significant differences.
Levels of Evidence: 3b.