Impact forces and shock deceleration during jumping and running have been associated with various knee injury etiologies. This study investigates the influence of jump height and knee contact angle on peak ground reaction force and segment axial accelerations. Ground reaction force, segment axial acceleration, and knee angles were measured for 6 male subjects during vertical jumping. A simple spring-mass model is used to predict the landing stiffness at impact as a function of (1) jump height, (2) peak impact force, (3) peak tibial axial acceleration, (4) peak thigh axial acceleration, and (5) peak trunk axial acceleration. Using a nonlinear least square fit, a strong (r = 0.86) and significant (p ≤ 0.05) correlation was found between knee contact angle and stiffness calculated using the peak impact force and jump height. The same model also showed that the correlation was strong (r = 0.81) and significant (p ≤ 0.05) between knee contact angle and stiffness calculated from the peak trunk axial accelerations. The correlation was weaker for the peak thigh (r = 0.71) and tibial (r = 0.45) axial accelerations. Using the peak force but neglecting jump height in the model, produces significantly worse correlation (r = 0.58). It was concluded that knee contact angle significantly influences both peak ground reaction forces and segment accelerations. However, owing to the nonlinear relationship, peak forces and segment accelerations change more rapidly at smaller knee flexion angles (i.e., close to full extension) than at greater knee flexion angles.
N. Elvin is with the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI; A. Elvin is with the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa; Arnoczky is with the Laboratory for Comparative Orthopaedic Research, College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI; and Torry is with the Biomechanics Research Laboratory, Steadman Hawkins Research Foundation, Vail, CO.