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Sidestep cutting technique and knee abduction loading: implications for ACL prevention exercises


Background Sidestep cutting technique is essential in programmes to prevent anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. A better understanding of how technique affects potentially harmful joint loading may improve prevention programmes. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of sidestep cutting technique on maximum knee abduction moments.

Methods Cross-sectional study. Whole-body kinematics and knee joint kinetics were calculated in 123 female handball players (mean±SD, 22.5±7.0 years, 171±7 cm, 67±7 kg) performing sidestep cutting. Three cuts from each side were analysed. Linear regression was applied between selected technique factors and maximum knee abduction moment during the first 100 ms of the contact phase. Furthermore, we investigated to what degree the abduction moment originated from the magnitude of the ground reaction force (GRF) or the knee abduction moment arm of the GRF.

Findings Technique factors explained 62% of the variance in knee abduction moments. Cut width, knee valgus, toe landing, approach speed and cutting angle were the most significant predictors. An increase in one of these factors of 1 SD increased the knee abduction moment from 12% to 19%. The effect of the moment arm of the GRF was more important than the force magnitude for maximum knee abduction moments.

Interpretation Lower knee abduction loads during sidestep cutting may be achieved if cuts are performed as narrow cuts with low knee valgus and toe landings. These factors may be targeted in ACL injury prevention programmes.

  • Biomechanics
  • Knee ACL

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