Posts tagged knee injuries
Leg strength not found to be associated with mechanics during cutting
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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.

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The Importance of Ankle Mobility for Proper Knee Mechanics
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In a previous post, we detailed the latest research on the importance of ankle mobility on knee mechanics.  During weight bearing the shin, tibia, must be able to move forward over the fixed ankle and foot.  Without adequate ankle flexibility and shin moved over the foot to the inside placing the knee at risk of traumatic and overuse injuries.  Conversely, patients with adequate ankle mobility and better able to keep their knee over their foot during a step down test.  Granted, many of these patients may also have hip weakness, but the importance of ankle mobility should not be overlooked.  New research supports the influence of ankle mobility on knee mechanics and stability.

In the Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy authors examined 30 healthy participants as they underwent biomechanical testing in a laboratory (Rabin et al. 2016).  The participants were tested on a step down test and then underwent testing of ankle mobility.  Authors then split the group in two based on either low or high degrees of mobility.  As expected, the group with the least amount of ankle mobility demonstrated less knee stability and more knee movement than the group with better ankle mobility.  Athletes and patients are encouraged to assess and treat limited ankle mobility for improvement in knee stability.