Greater lower extremity joint stiffness may be related to the development of tibial stress fractures in runners. Musculotendinous stiffness is the largest contributor to joint stiffness, but it is unclear what factors contribute to musculotendinous stiffness. The purpose of this study was to compare plantar flexor musculotendinous stiffness, architecture, geometry, and Achilles tendon stiffness between male runners with and without a history of tibial stress fracture. Nineteen healthy runners (age = 21 ± 2.7 years; mass = 68.2 ± 9.3 kg; height = 177.3 ± 6.0 cm) and 19 runners with a history of tibial stress fracture (age = 21 ± 2.9 years; mass = 65.3 ± 6.0 kg; height = 177.2 ± 5.2 cm) were recruited from community running groups and the university’s varsity and club cross-country teams. Plantar flexor musculotendinous stiffness was estimated from the damped frequency of oscillatory motion about the ankle follow perturbation. Ultrasound imaging was used to measure architecture and geometry of the medial gastrocnemius. Dependent variables were compared between groups via one-way ANOVAs. Previously injured runners had greater plantar flexor musculotendinous stiffness (P < .001), greater Achilles tendon stiffness (P = .004), and lesser Achilles tendon elongation (P = .003) during maximal isometric contraction compared with healthy runners. No differences were found in muscle thickness, pennation angle, or fascicle length.
Derek N. Pamukoff and J. Troy Blackburn
Timothy C. Mauntel, Barnett S. Frank, Rebecca L. Begalle, J. Troy Blackburn and Darin A. Padua
A greater knee valgus angle is a risk factor for lower extremity injuries. Visually observed medial knee displacement is used as a proxy for knee valgus motion during movement assessments in an attempt to identify individuals at heightened risk for injury. The validity of medial knee displacement as an indicator of valgus motion has yet to be determined during a single-leg squat. This study compared three-dimensional knee and hip angles between participants who displayed medial knee displacement (MKD group) during a single-leg squat and those who did not (control group). Participants completed five single-leg squats. An electromagnetic motion tracking system was used to quantify peak knee and hip joint angles during the descent phase of each squat. MANOVA identified a difference between the MKD and control group kinematics. ANOVA post hoc testing revealed greater knee valgus angle in the MKD (12.86 ± 5.76) compared with the control (6.08 ± 5.23) group. There were no other differences between groups. Medial knee displacement is indicative of knee valgus motion; however, it is not indicative of greater knee or hip rotation, or hip adduction. These data indicate that clinicians can accurately identify individuals with greater knee valgus angle through visually observed medial knee displacement.
Rebecca L. Begalle, Meghan C. Walsh, Melanie L. McGrath, Michelle C. Boling, J. Troy Blackburn and Darin A. Padua
The ankle, knee, and hip joints work together in the sagittal plane to absorb landing forces. Reduced sagittal plane motion at the ankle may alter landing strategies at the knee and hip, potentially increasing injury risk; however, no studies have examined the kinematic relationships between the joints during jump landings. Healthy adults (N = 30; 15 male, 15 female) performed jump landings onto a force plate while three-dimensional kinematic data were collected. Joint displacement values were calculated during the loading phase as the difference between peak and initial contact angles. No relationship existed between ankle dorsiflexion displacement during landing and three-dimensional knee and hip displacements. However, less ankle dorsiflexion displacement was associated with landing at initial ground contact with larger hip flexion, hip internal rotation, knee flexion, knee varus, and smaller plantar flexion angles. Findings of the current study suggest that restrictions in ankle motion during landing may contribute to contacting the ground in a more flexed position but continuing through little additional motion to absorb the landing. Transverse plane hip and frontal plane knee positioning may also occur, which are known to increase the risk of lower extremity injury.