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Falling as a strategy to save the knee

Summary of an article comparing normal langing, soft landing and landing with falling on forces going through the knee in recreational athletes.

Who

32 (16 males and 16 females) recreational athletes aged 22.0 ±2.9 years (USA).

Design

Experimental study comparing 3 landing techniques:

  • natural landings (as in sports),
  • soft landings (as soft as possible),
  • landings followed by a fall (landed softly first, and then smoothly fall forward and roll)
  • after forward (from a 30 cm box) or vertical jumps (to touch a handing basketball),
  • single-legged or double-legged.

Outcome measures/tests

  • knee biomechanics: angles and moments

Main results

  • Forward landing task:

    • landing with falling had the greatest knee flexion angle, the least vertical ground reaction force, peak knee extention and adduction moments among the 3 landing techniques for both single- and double-leg landings.
    • soft landing also led to increased knee flexion angle, decreased peak vertical ground reaction force, and decreased peak knee extension and adduction moments compared to the natural landing.
  • Vertical landing task:

    • falling condition had the greatest (among 3 landing techniques) knee flexion angle, the least vertical ground reaction force, peak knee extention and adduction moments for both single- and double-leg landing.
    • soft landing also led to increased knee flexion angle, decreased peak vertical ground reaction force, and decreased peak knee extension and adduction moments compared to the natural landing.

Take home message

For a clinician
Langing with falling led to increased flexion and reduced forces on a knee joint in both forward and vertical landings, as well as singe- and double-leg langing.
For a parent
Langing with falling led to reduced forces on a knee joint. When landing in an akward position, it may be safer to just fall instead of trying to save it.
For an athlete
Langing with falling led to reduced forces on a knee joint. When you land on one leg in akward position, it may be safer to just fall instead of trying to save it.

Original article

Li L, Baur M, Baldwin K, Kuehn T, Zhu Q, Herman D, Dai B. Falling as a strategy to decrease knee loading during landings: Implications for ACL injury prevention. Journal of biomechanics. 2020 Aug 26;109:109906.

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