Purpose: To investigate the external loads applied to the knee joint during dynamic cutting tasks and assess the potential for ligament loading.
Methods: A 50-Hz VICON motion analysis system was used to determine the lower limb kinematics of 11 healthy male subjects during running, sidestepping, and crossover cut. A kinematic model was used in conjunction with force place data to calculate the three-dimensional loads at the knee joint during stance phase.
Results: External flexion/extension loads at the knee joint were similar across tasks; however, the varus/valgus and internal/external rotation moments applied to the knee during sidestepping and crossover cutting were considerably larger than those measured during normal running (P < 0.05). Sidestepping tasks elicited combined loads of flexion, valgus, and internal rotation, whereas crossover cutting tasks elicited combined loads of flexion, varus, and external rotation.
Conclusion: Compared with running, the potential for increased ligament loading during sidestepping and crossover cutting maneuvers is a result of the large increase in varus/valgus and internal/external rotation moments rather than any change in the external flexion moment. The combined external moments applied to the knee joint during stance phase of the cutting tasks are believed to place the ACL and collateral ligaments at risk of injury, particularly at knee flexion angles between 0 degrees and 40 degrees, if appropriate muscle activation strategies are not used to counter these moments.