Timing of lower extremity frontal plane motion differs between female and male athletes during a landing task

Michael F Joseph, Michael Rahl, Jessica Sheehan, Bradley MacDougall, Elaine Horn, Craig R Denegar, Thomas H Trojian, Jeffrey M Anderson, William J Kraemer
American Journal of Sports Medicine 2011, 39 (7): 1517-21

BACKGROUND: Female athletes are at a greater risk for noncontact anterior cruciate ligament injuries than male athletes. Gender differences in frontal plane kinematics (hip adduction, knee valgus, and ankle eversion) and temporal relationships that make up the components of dynamic knee valgus may explain this discrepancy.

HYPOTHESIS: The authors hypothesized that women would reach peak frontal plane kinematic values earlier during landing compared with their male counterparts.

STUDY DESIGN: Controlled laboratory study.

METHODS: Hip, knee, and ankle 3-dimensional kinematics were measured using high-speed motion capture in 10 National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I female athletes and 10 male practice squad athletes during a drop-jump landing. Independent t tests were used to analyze each dependent variable to identify differences between genders.

RESULTS: Maximum hip adduction, knee valgus, and ankle eversion occurred earlier in women than in men (mean differences 33.7% of stance [95% CI, 20.2%-47.2%], 41.7% [95% CI, 31.5%-51.6%], 16.5% of stance [95% CI, 7.3%-25.6%], respectively). Maximum hip adduction and knee valgus occurred before maximum knee flexion in women and after in men (mean differences 0.11 seconds [95% CI, 0.05-0.18 seconds], 0.19 seconds [95% CI, 0.13-0.25 seconds], respectively). Maximum ankle eversion occurred earlier in women than in men (mean difference 0.06 seconds [95% CI, 0.01-0.11 seconds]). There was a significant difference between genders for angular velocity of knee valgus (mean difference = 25.53 deg/sec [95% CI, 8.30-42.77 deg/sec]).

CONCLUSION: Frontal plane kinematic temporal relationships at the hip, knee, and ankle differ between genders. The components of dynamic knee valgus peak during the deceleration phase in women and during the acceleration phase in men during a drop-jump landing. These data suggest that men and women employ a completely different kinematic landing/jumping strategy and that women land and collapse very rapidly into valgus compared with their male counterparts.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE: The differences in timing of the components of dynamic knee valgus between women and men may contribute to the increased risk of noncontact anterior cruciate ligament injuries in female athletes. There may be implications for neuromuscular reeducation training in those at risk for anterior cruciate ligament injury so the components of dynamic valgus occur later in the landing phase of jumping.

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