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Hamstring extensibility and transverse plane knee control relationship in athletic women

  • Sports medicine
  • Published:
Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy Aims and scope


Athletic women are at particular risk for sustaining a noncontact anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. The hamstrings are vital to providing dynamic knee motion control in the sagittal and transverse planes during running stance, and some have suggested this function is enhanced when they are less extensible. This study attempted to determine the correlational relationships between hamstring extensibility and transverse plane knee kinematics and from these data to describe the dynamic transverse plane knee motion control capabilities of the hamstrings. Twenty normal athletic women (mean ± SD; aged 21 ± 1.6 years; height 163.3 ± 5.7 cm; weight 60.1 ± 3.6 kg) were evaluated for active hamstring extensibility and transverse plane knee kinematic relationships during crossover-cut stance phase. Following crossover-cut training (3 weeks) using the left (preferred) lower extremity as the stance limb, hamstring extensibility was measured. Following this, subjects were fitted with 9 retroreflective markers denoting the local segmental coordinate systems (3 markers each) of the left foot, leg and thigh. Kinematic (3-dimensional, four phase-locked cameras, 200 Hz) knee and ankle data were sampled and analyzed. Descriptive statistics and Pearson correlations between hamstring extensibility and knee and ankle kinematic variables were calculated. Statistical significance was set at P≤ 0.05 with Bonferroni adjustments. Hamstring extensibility (12°± 8° terminal extension) revealed low but significant positive correlations with tibial external rotation (6°± 10.7°) at heelstrike (19.3°± 8.5° knee flexion) (r = 0.62, P = 0.004) and tibial internal rotation (–13°± 8.4°) at peak knee flexion (57.8°± 9.3°) following heelstrike (r = 0.47, P = 0.01). Increased hamstring extensibility resulted in increased tibial external rotation at heelstrike and decreased tibial internal rotation at peak knee flexion. Increased hamstring extensibility may improve knee extensor efficiency at heelstrike by enabling greater tibial external rotation and protect the ACL at peak knee flexion by decreasing the tibial internal rotation magnitude.

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Received: 23 December 1997 Accepted: 10 May 1998

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Nyland, J., Caborn, D., Shapiro, R. et al. Hamstring extensibility and transverse plane knee control relationship in athletic women. Knee Surgery 7, 257–261 (1999).

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