Proceedings of The Physiological Society

King's College London (2009) Proc Physiol Soc 14, PC9

Poster Communications

Relationship between hand grip and quadriceps strength in young and older people

D. Samuel1, K. Wilson1, H. Martin2, R. Allen3, A. Aihie Sayer2, M. Stokes1

1. School of Health Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom. 2. MRC Epidemiology Resource Centre, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom. 3. Institute of Sound & Vibration Research, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom.

  • Table 1. Grip and quadriceps strength: MVCs and ratios

Quadriceps strength is a predictor of falls in older people (1). However grip strength is easier to measure and considered a good indicator of general strength (2), and has been adopted widely in epidemiological studies. It is unclear how closely grip and quadriceps strength correlate, particularly in older people. This study aimed to determine the relationship between grip and quadriceps strength in older people. Thirty-eight adults were studied: 20 young (10 male; aged 20-32 years, mean 24) and 18 older people (9 male; 62-82 years, mean 72). Maximal voluntary contractions (MVC) of the quadriceps muscle were measured with the subject seated in a test rig with a custom-built strain gauge. Grip strength was measured using an electronic Jamar dynamometer (Biometrics Ltd, UK). The best of three isometric contractions for both muscles were used in the analysis. Grip and quadriceps strength (Newtons) were greater in young than older adults of the same gender, and greater in males than females of similar age (Table 1). When grip strength was divided by quadriceps strength to produce a ratio, the values for young adults were similar in males and females (mean ratio 0.75, indicating quadriceps was approx. 25% stronger; Table 1). The ratios were increased in older adults (p=0.5), in whom the strength of the two muscle groups was approximately equal. Pearson’s correlation indicated a strong relationship between grip and quadriceps strength (p<0.05), with correlation coefficients (r) of 0.83 and 0.70 for the young and older groups respectively. Grip and quadriceps strength were significantly correlated in younger and older people. The reduced muscle strength in the older groups was expected but their higher grip/quadriceps strength ratios demonstrated a greater loss of quadriceps than grip strength. The older people in this study were healthy and it remains to be investigated whether the relatively greater rate of decline in quadriceps strength is more exaggerated in those who are frail.

Where applicable, experiments conform with Society ethical requirements