Alteration of quadriceps muscle activity during functional step tasks after extended sitting session


      • Sitting is an increasingly common activity in modern daily life.
      • Different sitting postures significantly affect muscle activity in the quadriceps.
      • Each component of the quadriceps was affected differently.
      • Cross-sitting was associated with knee pain and patellofemoral pain syndrome.
      • Patients with knee pain should avoid cross-legged sitting.



      Prolonged sitting with high knee flexion is a common activity that may affect patellofemoral joint compression and quadriceps length. Exploring the quadriceps activation after sitting may help to explain the mechanism underlying muscle changes and the resulting patellofemoral pain.


      To examine changes in quadriceps activity after prolonged sitting in cross-legged sitting, side-sitting, and sitting on a chair.


      Laboratory observational study.


      Thirty healthy women participated and were randomly allocated to three groups of different sitting positions (n = 10/group). Electromyography (EMG) of the vastus medialis (VM), rectus femoris (RF), and vastus lateralis (VL) was performed before and after 15 min after sitting. EMG was conducted during step-up and step-down tests and was reported as %MVIC. The results were analysed using Wilcoxon signed-rank test and Kruskal-Wallis ANOVA.


      VM activity and EMG activity during the step-down test after sitting increased significantly in the cross-legged group (p = 0.01). Sitting postures significantly influenced (p = 0.02) muscle activity changes in the VL and VM during the step-up test. Pairwise comparisons revealed significant differences between the cross-legged sitting and sitting on a chair groups.


      Prolonged cross-legged sitting and side-sitting caused changes in VM and VL activity during step tasks in healthy young women. After cross-legged sitting, the VM exhibited a significantly higher activity in descending control, and changes in VM and VL activity increased significantly during the step-up task. Increased VM and VL activation possibly controls the patellofemoral joint. Therefore, they may fatigue more easily when many step tasks or squatting exercises are performed.


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