Changes in ground reaction force during jump landing in subjects with functional instability of the ankle joint

Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon). 2004 Jul;19(6):617-21. doi: 10.1016/j.clinbiomech.2004.03.001.


Objective: To identify changes in ground reaction force during jump landing in subjects with functional instability of the ankle joint.

Design: Comparison of ground reaction force during jump landing between subjects with functional instability and healthy controls.

Background: We have recently demonstrated significantly altered patterns of ankle and knee movement immediately pre- and post-impact in subjects with functional instability compared to healthy controls. We now examine the changes in timing and magnitude of forces sustained by the unstable ankle during jump landing.

Methods: Fourteen subjects with unstable ankles and 10 age, sex and activity matched controls performed five single leg jumps onto a force platform whilst ground reaction forces were sampled. Timing and magnitudes of forces during the first 150 ms following impact were analysed and compared between groups.

Results: Lateral and anterior force peaks occurred significantly earlier in subjects with functional instability. Significant differences were seen between groups' time-averaged vertical, frontal and sagittal components of ground reaction force. These ranged from 5% (frontal force) to 100% (vertical force) of body mass. These changes occur immediately post-impact and too early for reflex correction/modification.

Conclusions: The disordered force patterns observed in subjects with functional instability are likely to result in repeated injury due to significant increase in stress on ankle joint structures during jump landing. We suggest that they are most likely to result from deficits in feed-forward motor control.

Relevance: These results identify the potentially injurious nature of the changes in the forces applied to the unstable ankle joint during jump landing. The timing of these changes suggests that they are caused by a motor control deficit. Treatment approaches aimed at retraining feed-forward control of ankle joint movement could succeed in restoring more normal patterns of force absorption and reduce the occurrence of repeated micro-trauma to ankle structures.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Adult
  • Ankle Joint / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Joint Instability / diagnosis*
  • Joint Instability / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Movement*
  • Postural Balance
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Stress, Mechanical