Cutting Mechanics: Relation to Performance and Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury Risk

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Quick changes of direction during running (cutting) are necessary for successful performance of many sports but are associated with noncontact anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries. Currently, it is not known how biomechanics associated with fast performance of cutting tasks relate to the mechanics associated with increased risk for injury. Without this knowledge, the technique emphasized in injury prevention programs may be at odds with the demands of cutting tasks. The purposes of this study were to 1) identify whole body and/or joint mechanics that are related to completion times of 45° and 90° cuts and, from these variables, 2) determine which variables are predictors of performance (i.e., completion time) and/or ACL injury risk (i.e., peak knee adductor moment).


Whole body and joint biomechanics were analyzed during the execution of two sidestep cutting maneuvers (to 45° and 90°) in 25 healthy experienced soccer players. Pearson correlation coefficients and stepwise multiple regression were used to analyze relations between variables.


The variables predictive of 45° cut performance included hip extensor moment and hip sagittal plane power generation as well as medial–lateral center-of-mass to center-of-pressure separation distance. This separation distance was also predictive of peak knee adductor moment. During the 90° cut, medial–lateral ground reaction force impulse and hip frontal plane power generation were predictive of performance whereas hip internal rotation and knee extensor moment were predictive of peak knee adductor moment.


These relations have important implications for ACL injury prevention programs. Although restricting frontal and transverse plane movement has been emphasized in many programs, these movement recommendations may not be appropriate for cutting tasks performed at greater angles.

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