Background The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is the main source of anterior knee joint stability and excessive anterior tibio-femoral translation (ATFT) (>5mm) can be a risk factor for ACL injury (Alentorn-Geli et al, 2009). The dynamic role the hamstring muscle group plays in protecting the ACL is important in functional knee joint stability as they work eccentrically to control ATFT.
Objectives The primary aim was to assess whether ATFT alters in male Rugby Union players following a 6 week eccentric hamstring strengthening programme.
Design Players were randomly allocated to either the hamstring intervention or control group.
Settings Fylde Rugby Football Club's (Rugby Union) Senior squad selected (semi-professional level).
Participants 16 players (no drop-outs).
Intervention ATFT was measured objectively by the KT-1000 arthrometer before and after the game. Following the 6 week intervention, the ATFT was reassessed before and after the game.
Results Decreases in ATFT values were observed between Pre and Post intervention (P<.001), however this was not statistically significant between groups (P≥.05).
Main outcome measurements ATFT may not be a factor that can be positively influenced by an eccentric hamstring strengthening protocol. This supplies evidence that increasing hamstring tendon stiffness with the aim of preventing ACL injuries may not transfer into function which disputes findings from previous literature (Blackburn et al, 2013). Following a six week period however, ATFT statistically decreased in both groups regardless of limb dominancy or the amount of anterior tibio-femoral force applied which could suggest that it may only play a secondary role in preventing serious knee ligament injuries.
Conclusions It might be more beneficial to work on other ACL intrinsic risk factors like neuromuscular training or biomechanical optimisation with an aim of reducing the incidence of severe knee injury in male Rugby Union.