Sex Differences in Knee Flexion Angle During a Rapid Change of Direction While Running

Christopher L. Sheu, Aaron M. Gray, David Brown, Brian A. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Females experience greater overall rates of athletic anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury than males. The specific mechanisms of the predisposition remain unclear. Hypothesis: Modeling of knee kinematics has shown that the more extended the knee joint, the greater the strain on the ACL. The authors hypothesized that female athletes would have a lesser degree of knee flexion than male athletes at initial ground contact while performing change-of-direction cutting maneuvers. Study Design: Controlled laboratory study. Methods: Twenty female and 20 male high school soccer athletes with at least 1 year of experience were recruited for the study. Athletes were excluded if they had a history of any major lower limb injury or current knee pain causing a reduction in training and/or competition. Reflective markers were attached at the greater trochanter of the femur, the lateral epicondyle of the knee, and the lateral malleolus of the ankle to enable motion capture. Each athlete performed 6 change-of-direction maneuvers in random order in front of 2 cameras. Multiple regression analysis was used to determine differences between the sexes from the motion data captured; P.05 defined significance. Results: Statistically significant differences existed in knee flexion angles between male and female participants at the 90° and 135° cutting angles. At 90°, males and females showed initial contact knee flexion angles (mean ± SD) of 39.0° ± 6.8° and 29.3° ± 6.2°, respectively (P <.0001), and mean maximum flexion angles of 56.4° ± 6.9° and 49.7° ± 7.0°, respectively (P =.0036). At 135°, males and females showed mean initial contact knee flexion angles of 36.8° ± 7.9° and 29.7° ± 7.8°, respectively (P =.0053), and mean maximum flexion angles of 60.7° ± 8.1° and 51.6° ± 9.4°, respectively (P =.0017). Conclusion: The research conducted is intended to foster an awareness of injury disposition in female athletes and guide future endeavors to develop, test, and implement a proactive approach in lowering female noncontact athletic ACL injury rates. This project adds to the literature as wider side-cut maneuvers (≥90°) were studied, as compared with previous studies using small side-cut angles (THIRU90°), offering a model for alternative sports actions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalOrthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 15 2015


  • ACL
  • anterior cruciate ligament
  • flexion
  • injury
  • kinematics
  • knee
  • motion analysis
  • sex
  • soccer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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