Decrease in neuromuscular control about the knee with maturation in female athletes

J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2004 Aug;86(8):1601-8. doi: 10.2106/00004623-200408000-00001.


Background: Compared with male athletes, female athletes demonstrate increased dynamic valgus angulation of the knee during landing from a jump, although prior to maturation male and female athletes have similar forces and motions about the knee when they land from a jump. Our hypothesis was that musculoskeletal changes that accompany maturation result in poor neuromuscular control of the knee joint in female athletes.

Methods: One hundred and eighty-one middle-school and high-school soccer and basketball players-100 girls and eighty-one boys-participated in the study. Dynamic control of the knee joint was measured kinematically by assessing medial knee motion and the lower-extremity valgus angle and was measured kinetically by assessing knee joint torques; the values were then compared between female and male athletes according to maturational stage. Lower-extremity bone length was measured with three-dimensional kinematic analysis.

Results: Following the onset of maturation, the female athletes landed with greater total medial motion of the knees and a greater maximum lower-extremity valgus angle than did the male athletes. The girls also demonstrated decreased flexor torques compared with the boys as well as a significant difference between the maximum valgus angles of their dominant and nondominant lower extremities after maturation.

Conclusions: After girls mature, they land from a jump differently than do boys, as measured kinematically and kinetically.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament / physiology*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / growth & development*
  • Knee Joint / physiology
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / growth & development*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Peripheral Nervous System / growth & development*
  • Peripheral Nervous System / physiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Sports / physiology*