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Changes in knee joint biomechanics following balance and technique training and a season of Australian football
  1. Cyril J Donnelly1,
  2. Bruce C Elliott1,
  3. Tim L A Doyle1,
  4. Caroline F Finch2,
  5. Alasdair R Dempsey1,3,
  6. David G Lloyd1,4
  1. 1School of Sport Science, Exercise and Health, The University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia
  2. 2Monash Injury Research Institute, Monash University, School of Chiropractic and Sports Science, Murdoch University, Perth, Australia Melbourne, Australia
  3. 3School of Chiropractic and Sports Science, Murdoch University, Perth, Australia
  4. 4Centre for Musculoskeletal Research, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Cyril J Donnelly, The University of Western Australia, School of Sport Science, Exercise and Health, 35 stirling Hwy, M408, Perth, Western Australia 6009, Australia; cyril. donnelly{at}


Purpose Determine if balance and technique training (BTT) implemented adjunct to normal Australian football (AF) training reduces external knee loading during sidestepping. Additionally, the authors determined if an athlete's knee joint kinematics and kinetics change over a season of AF.

Methodology Eight amateur-level AF clubs (n=1,001 males) volunteered to participate in either 28 weeks of BTT or a ‘sham’ training (ST) adjunct to their normal preseason and regular training. A subset of 34 athletes (BTT, n=20; ST, n=14) were recruited for biomechanical testing in weeks 1–7 and 18–25 of the 28-week training intervention. During biomechanical testing, participants completed a series running, preplanned (PpSS) and unplanned sidestepping (UnSS) tasks. A linear mixed model (α=0.05) was used to determine if knee kinematics and peak moments during PpSS and UnSS were influenced by BTT and/or a season of AF.

Results Both training groups significantly (p=0.025) decreased their peak internal-rotation knee moments during PpSS, and significantly (p=0.022) increased their peak valgus knee moments during UnSS following their respective training interventions.

Conclusions BTT was not effective in changing an athlete's knee joint biomechanics during sidestepping when conducted in ‘real-world’ training environments. Following normal AF training, the players had different changes to their knee joint biomechanics during both preplanned and unplanned sidestepping. When performing an unplanned sidestepping task in the latter half of a playing season, athletes are at an increased risk of ACL injury. The authors therefore recommend both sidestepping tasks are performed during biomechanical testing when assessing the effectiveness of prophylactic training protocols.

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  • Funding Australian National Health and Medical Research Foundation.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.