Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968   
Ios-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Androit-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2022) 21, 68 - 73   DOI:

Research article
Sex Differences in Neck Strength Force and Activation Patterns in Collegiate Contact Sport
Caitlin A. Gallo1, Gabrielle N. Desrochers1, Garett J. Morris1, Chad D. Rumney1, Sydney J. Sandell1, Jane K. McDevitt2, Dianne Langford3, John M. Rosene1, 
Author Information
1 Department of Exercise and Sport Performance, University of New England, Biddeford, Maine, United States of America
2 Department of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America
3 Department of Neuroscience, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America

John M. Rosene
✉ Department of Exercise and Sport Performance. University of New England. 11 Hills Beach Road, Biddeford, ME 04005, USA
Publish Date
Received: 20-10-2021
Accepted: 10-12-2021
Published (online): 15-02-2021
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The purpose of this study was to assess changes in cervical musculature throughout contact-heavy collegiate ice hockey practices during a regular season of NCAA Division III ice hockey teams. In this cross-sectional study, 36 (male n = 13; female n = 23) ice hockey players participated. Data were collected over 3 testing sessions (baseline; pre-practice; post-practice). Neck circumference, neck length, head-neck segment length, isometric strength and electromyography (EMG) activity for flexion and extension were assessed. Assessments were completed approximately 1h before a contact-heavy practice and 15 min after practice. For sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscles, males had significantly greater peak force and greater time to peak force versus females. For both left and right SCMs, both sexes had significantly greater peak EMG activity pre-practice versus baseline, and right (dominant side) SCM time to peak EMG activity was decreased post-practice compared to pre-practice. There were no significant differences for EMG activity of the upper trapezius musculature, over time or between sexes. Sex differences observed in SCM force and activation patterns of the dominant side SCM may contribute to head stabilization during head impacts. Our study is the first investigation to report changes in cervical muscle strength in men’s and women’s ice hockey players in the practical setting.

Key words: Ice hockey, sternocleidomastoid, sex differences, neck strength

           Key Points
  • Concussion prevention strategies, such as cervical muscle strength and activation time, was investigated in the practical setting.
  • Neck muscle fatigue may not be a contributing factor to a concussive event in contact sports such as ice hockey.
  • Hand dominance may affect recruitment timing of neck musculature, which can affect the cervical muscle activation response.
  • Males and females exhibited differences in sternocleidomastoid time to peak force.
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