The function of the hamstrings in protecting the ACL is not fully understood. The purpose of this study was to determine how landing knee mechanics were affected by hamstrings fatigue, analyzed with principal components analysis (PCA). Knee joint mechanics were collected during single-leg stride landings that were followed by lateral and vertical jumps. An isokinetic fatigue protocol was employed to reduce hamstrings strength by 75% at the cessation of the exercise protocol. On the landing test day, participants performed the stride landing maneuvers before and after the fatigue protocol. PCA was performed on the landing knee joint angle, moment, and power waveforms, and MANOVAs were conducted on the retained PCs of each waveform (P < .05). On the strength test day, hamstrings strength recovery was assessed with an identical fatigue protocol followed by strength assessment ~75 s after the cessation of exercise. Pre- and postexercise hamstrings strength on this day was assessed with a dependent t test (P < .05). The hamstrings strength remained significantly reduced by ~8% postexercise (75 s). For stride landings followed by vertical jumps, there were significantly reduced knee flexion angles, extensor moments, and energy absorption. This was indicative of a stiffer landing strategy postfatigue, which has been associated with increased ACL loading.
Kristian M. O’Connor, Carl Johnson, and Lauren C. Benson are with the Musculoskeletal Injury Biomechanics Laboratory, Department of Kinesiology, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI.