January 2012

Ball position during overhead catch influences ACL injury risk on landing

In the moment: Sports medicine

When an athlete jumps to catch a ball overhead, the path of the ball relative to the dominant leg affects landing mechanics in ways that could increase risk of anterior cruciate ligament injury, according to research from Griffith University in Gold Coast, Australia.

Investigators analyzed 25 male athletes as they landed from an overhead catch of a ball rigged to fall toward or away from each athlete’s preferred landing leg. They found that peak knee valgus moment, which in previous studies has been associated with ACL injury risk, was significantly higher when the ball was traveling toward the preferred landing leg when caught.

Landing with an externally rotated foot, externally rotated knee, abducted and internally rotated hip, and laterally flexed or rotated torso were also associated with increased knee valgus moments as well as increased knee internal rotation moments. The authors suggested that targeted landing recovery strategies could help athletes minimize the risks as­so­ciated with having to lean or rotate to catch a ball.

The findings were e-published on January 11 by Clinical Biomechanics.

Source: Dempsey AR, Elliott BC, Munro BJ, et al. Whole body kinematics and knee moments that occur during an over­head catch and landing task in sport. Clin Biomech 2012 Jan 11. [Epub ahead of print]

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