PURPOSE: To examine the effects of different sagittal plane body positions during single-leg landings on biomechanics and muscle activation parameters associated with risk for anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury.
METHODS: Twenty participants performed single-leg drop landings onto a force plate using the following landing styles: self-selected, leaning forward (LFL) and upright (URL). Lower extremity and trunk 3D biomechanics and lower extremity muscle activities were recorded using motion analysis and surface electromyography, respectively. Differences in landing styles were examined using 2-way Repeated-measures ANOVAs (sex × landing conditions) followed by Bonferroni pairwise comparisons.
RESULTS: Participants demonstrated greater peak vertical ground reaction force, greater peak knee extensor moment, lesser plantar flexion, lesser or no hip extensor moments, and lesser medial and lateral gastrocnemius and lateral quadriceps muscle activations during URL than during LFL. These modifications of lower extremity biomechanics across landing conditions were similar between men and women.
CONCLUSIONS: Leaning forward while landing appears to protect the ACL by increasing the shock absorption capacity and knee flexion angles and decreasing anterior shear force due to the knee joint compression force and quadriceps muscle activation. Conversely, landing upright appears to be ACL harmful by increasing the post-impact force of landing and quadriceps muscle activity while decreasing knee flexion angles, all of which lead to a greater tibial anterior shear force and ACL loading. ACL injury prevention programmes should include exercise regimens to improve sagittal plane body position control during landing motions.
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