Cutting movements utilized in soccer, football, basketball, and lacrosse are one of the most common mechanisms of non contact knee injuries. Athletes who cut with poor mechanics demonstrate larger hip and knee angles placing the ligaments of the knee, such as the ACL, at greater risk of injury. These movements at the knee are driven by two main factors: leg weakness and poor mechanics. A recent study analyzed the mechanics of athletes performing cutting movements to determine the extent strength plays a role in poor mechanics.
Husted and colleagues analyzed 85 athletes for hip strength and muscle activation during a cutting task (International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, 2018). The authors found no association between lower body strength testing measurements and muscle contraction during the cutting task. This study highlights the importance of first improving an athlete's lower body strength to give them the capacity to move properly. Once the strength foundation is established we are able to work on the athlete's mechanics to ensure they utilize the most optimal movement strategy for their sport specific task. This study highlights the importance of not assuming mechanics will improve with a strength training program alone.