Lower Extremity Biomechanics Differ in Prepubescent and Postpubescent Female Athletes during Stride Jump Landings

in Journal of Applied Biomechanics
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Epidemiological evidence suggests the incidence of injury in female athletes is greater after the onset of puberty and that landing from a jump is a common mechanism of knee injury. This investigation compared lower extremity joint kinematics and joint resultant forces and moments during three types of stride jump (stride jump followed by a static landing; a ballistic vertical jump; and a ballistic lateral jump) between pre- and postpubescent recreational athletes to provide some insight into the increased incidence of injury. Sixteen recreationally active postpubescent women (ages 18–25 years) and 16 recreationally active prepubescent girls (ages 8–11 years) participated in this study. High speed 3D videography and force plate data were used to record each jumper’s performance of the stride jumps, and an inverse dynamic procedure was used to estimate lower extremity joint resultant forces and moments and power. These dependent variables were submitted to a 2 × 3 (Maturation Level × Landing Sequence) MANOVA with repeated measures on the last factor. The findings indicated that postpubescents landed with the knee more extended (4.4°) and had greater extension moments (approximately 30% greater hip and knee extension moments) and powers (40% greater knee power). Further, the post-pubescent athletes had greater knee anterior/posterior forces as well as medio-lateral resultant forces. The differences found between the two groups suggest there may be anatomical and physiological changes with puberty that lead to differences in strength or neuromuscular control which influence the dynamic restraint system in these recreational athletes. A combination of these factors likely plays a role in the increased risk of injury in postpubescent females.

Dept of Neurology, Emory U. School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA, 30322

Center for Exercise Science, Dept of Exercise & Sport Science, U. of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611

Dept of Physical Therapy, East Carolina U., Greenville, NC 27858.

Chris J. Hass is now with the School of Applied Physiology, Georgia Tech, Space Science & Techn Bldg, Atlanta, GA 30332-0356.