Biomechanical analysis of tibial torque and knee flexion angle: implications for understanding knee injury

Sports Med. 2006;36(8):635-41. doi: 10.2165/00007256-200636080-00001.


Knee injuries are common in sports activities. Understanding the mechanisms of injury allows for better treatment of these injuries and for the development of effective prevention programmes. Tibial torque and knee flexion angle have been associated with several mechanisms of injury in the knee. This article focuses on the injury to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) and the meniscus of the knee as they relate to knee flexion angle and tibial torque. Hyperflexion and hyperextension with the application of tibial torque have both been implicated in the mechanism of ACL injury. A combination of anterior tibial force and internal tibial torque near full extension puts the ACL at high risk for injury. Hyperflexion also increases ACL force; however, in this position, internal and external tibial torque only minimally increase ACL force. Several successful prevention programmes have been based on these biomechanical factors. Injury to the PCL typically occurs in a flexed or hyperflexed knee position. The effects of application of a tibial torque, both internally and externally, remains controversial. Biomechanical studies have shown an increase in PCL force with knee flexion and the application of internal tibial torque, while others have shown that PCL-deficient knees have greater external tibial rotation. The meniscus must endure greater compressive loads at higher flexion angles of the knee and, as a result, are more prone to injury in these positions. In addition, ACL deficiency puts the meniscus at greater risk for injury. Reducing the forces on the ACL, PCL and meniscus during athletic activity through training, the use of appropriate equipment and safe surfaces will help to reduce injury to these structures.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries
  • Athletic Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Athletic Injuries / prevention & control
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Humans
  • Knee Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Knee Injuries / prevention & control
  • Knee Joint / physiology*
  • Posterior Cruciate Ligament / injuries
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology
  • Tibia / physiology
  • Tibial Meniscus Injuries
  • Torque