The increased number of women participating in sports has led to a higher knee injury rate in women compared with men. Among these injuries, those occurring to the ACL are commonly observed during landing maneuvers. The purpose of this study was to determine gender differences in landing strategies during unilateral and bilateral landings. Sixteen male and 17 female recreational athletes were recruited to perform unilateral and bilateral landings from a raised platform, scaled to match their individual jumping abilities. Three-dimensional kinematics and kinetics of the dominant leg were calculated during the landing phase and reported as initial ground contact angle, ranges of motion (ROM) and peak moments. Lower extremity energy absorption was also calculated for the duration of the landing phase. Results showed that gender differences were only observed in sagittal plane hip and knee ROM, potentially due to the use of a relative drop height versus the commonly used absolute drop height. Unilateral landings were characterized by significant differences in hip and knee kinematics that have been linked to increased injury risk and would best be classified as “stiff” landings. The ankle musculature was used more for impact absorption during unilateral landing, which required increased joint extension at touchdown and may increase injury risk during an unbalanced landing. In addition, there was only an 11% increase in total energy absorption during unilateral landings, suggesting that there was a substantial amount of passive energy transfer during unilateral landings.
Joshua T. Weinhandl, Mukta Joshi, and Kristian M. O’Connor (Corresponding Author) are with the Neuromechanics Laboratory, Department of Human Movement Sciences, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI.