Knee injuries in adolescent females, including anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture, are increasing in frequency. One of the suspected causes is poor landing technique characterized by ‘knock-knee’ posture. Pubertal development is associated with rapid growth of the long bones and surrounding soft tissue and is thought to be an underlying contributor to poor knee and lower limb biomechanics. Yet, no previous studies have investigated the effects of female pubertal development stages on knee and hip biomechanics during a single-limb landing task.
In this study of 93 healthy and physically active girls, the investigators grouped subjects according to pre-pubertal, early/mid-pubertal and late/post-pubertal development stages. All girls had their hip and knee biomechanics recorded with three-dimensional (3-D) motion analysis and force-plate technology while they completed a single-limb landing task. This experimental task was designed to mimic the mechanism of traumatic sporting knee injuries. Girls at latter stages of puberty were heavier, taller and landed with higher 3-D knee forces in comparison to girls at earlier stages of development.
These findings indicate that pubertal-related growth may contribute to higher rates of female adolescent knee injury.
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