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Change-of-Direction Biomechanics: Is What’s Best for Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury Prevention Also Best for Performance?

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Abstract

Change-of-direction maneuvers (e.g., side-step cutting) are an important aspect of performance in multi-directional sports, but these maneuvers are also associated with anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. Despite this, the impact of biomechanics on ACL injury risk and performance is often examined in isolation. The purpose of this review was to examine the alignment between biomechanical recommendations for ACL injury prevention and performance with regard to change-of-direction maneuvers. Several studies linking change-of-direction biomechanics to both ACL injury risk and performance were examined. A degree of overlap was identified between biomechanical strategies that could both reduce ACL injury risk and enhance performance during change-of-direction maneuvers. A fore-foot footfall pattern along with trunk rotation and lateral flexion in the intended cutting direction were identified as biomechanical strategies that could both reduce potentially hazardous knee joint moments and enhance change-of-direction speed. Minimizing knee valgus during change-of-direction maneuvers may also reduce ACL injury risk, with this biomechanical strategy found to have no impact on performance. Certain biomechanical strategies proposed to reduce ACL injury risk were linked to reduced change-of-direction performance. A narrow foot placement and “soft” landings with greater knee flexion were identified as ACL injury prevention strategies that could have a negative impact on performance. The findings of this review emphasize the need to consider both ACL injury risk and performance when examining the biomechanics of change-of-direction maneuvers.

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Correspondence to Aaron S. Fox.

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Aaron Fox has no conflicts of interest relevant to the content of this review.

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Fox, A.S. Change-of-Direction Biomechanics: Is What’s Best for Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury Prevention Also Best for Performance?. Sports Med 48, 1799–1807 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-018-0931-3

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