Females experience at least twice as many non-contact anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries as males. The aim of this study was to investigate if males and females exhibited different characteristics while performing a modified pro-agility test.
Collegiate Division III male baseball (n=14) and female softball (n=13) players performed 4 trials of a modified pro-agility task, which consisted of running toward a force platform target for 5 steps, planting their right foot, and propelling themselves off of the target with their left foot. Kinematic and kinetic parameters were compared using a multivariate analysis of variance between gender with the level of significance set at P<0.05.
Males and females exhibited similar knee valgus angles. Females had a greater maximum knee extension angle (10.14 degrees vs 17.43 degrees ), and greater knee range of motion (46.12 degrees vs 40.12 degrees ). Both groups reached maximum knee flexion at 52% of stance. Females had significantly more maximum hip flexion than males (28.86 degrees vs 22.75 degrees ). Females had significantly smaller minimum internal knee varus moments than their male counterparts (1.12 Nm/kg vs 1.55 Nm/kg). Vertical ground reaction forces as a percentage of bodyweight, and stance time, were not statistically different. The female group displayed an external knee rotation angle (2.49 degrees ) during the beginning of their stance, which was significantly different than the internal rotation angle (4.11 degrees ) in the male group. Early in stance knee rotation angle was highly correlated with the lack of internal knee varus moment (males R(2)=0.75, females R(2)=0.88).
Females displayed knee moments and kinematics that may place them at greater risk for ACL injury during a stop-cut task. Females should be coached to perform stop cuts with more knee flexion and a more neutral knee rotation angle upon foot contact in an effort to reduce moments that may place the ACL at risk.