Do 'light' landers display lower limb injury protective mechanisms?
Many landing training programs teach individuals techniques aimed at reducing the ground reaction forces experienced at landing for reduced injury risk. However, it is unknown whether athletes who land with low ground reaction forces display technique characteristics that would be beneficial in landing training programs. Therefore, this study aimed to if whether athletes who land ‘‘lightly’’ display lower limb strategies that are advantageous to reducing lower limb injury. Thirty-six athletes (mean 23.6 years, range 19—32) involved in landing sports and with no history of knee joint disease underwent laboratory-based assessment of their landing technique, which captured their three-dimensional motion (200 Hz) and the ground reaction forces and lower limb neuromuscular control patterns displayed during landing (1000 Hz). Subjects were then divided into two groups based on the resultant ground reaction forces generated during an abrupt deceleration task, that is, light landers (mean 4 BW) and heavy landers (mean 6 BW). Paired t-tests showed that, as anticipated, light landers displayed significantly (p < 0.05) greater knee flexion at initial contact (16◦) compared to the heavy landers (12◦) but unexpectedly they did not take advantage of moving through a greater range of knee motion to dissipate the landing forces. Furthermore, there were no significant differences in the neuromuscular patterns displayed between the two groups. Therefore, it would appear that light landers dissipate the landing forces through mechanisms other than at the knee. What these exact force dissipation mechanisms are and whether they can be trained in injury prevention landing training programs requires further investigation.