Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Avoid Knee Injuries With Proper Landings From Jumps

Knee Anterior Cruciate Ligament injuries can easily occur when you don't land properly from a jump.

Your joints must be positioned properly in order to activate the correct muscles for jumping with power and landing. Landing on your toes without proper knee and hip flexion will increase your risk of injury.

Quadriceps dominant athletes who run and jump on their toes are also susceptible to knee ACL injuries. This happens when the quadriceps are recruited ahead of the knee flexors to stabilize the knee joint.

Female athletes, in particular, tend to be quadriceps dominant (because of weak hamstrings). Jumping and landing on the balls of the feet will properly activate the knee flexors.

So, how will proper landing technique take the stress off of the knee's ACL? The hamstrings and glutes need to be activated by landing on the balls of your feet with the knees and hips flexed. Activation of the hamstrings and glutes will pull the tibia (shin) back, decreasing the impact on the knee's ACL.

The knees should also be in line with the toes when landing. Risk of injury is greater when the knees "cave in" or rotate outward.

Practice plyometric jumping and landing techniques on a rubber surface, grass or other similar nonhard surface.

Focus on landing with your knees flexed (bent), your shoulders slightly forward and your glutes and hips back. Land on the balls of your feet with your heels slightly off the ground.

Make plyometric jumping and landing technique drills a part of your regular workouts. Your knees will thank you!

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Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
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