The influence of residual fatigue on lower limb stiffness during jump landing
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Background: Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries have become commonplace among female athletes in today’s society. With more than 70% of injuries resulting from noncontact mechanisms such as jump landing, the relationship between fatigue and altered movements patterns has become an important topic of research. Purpose: The main purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of residual fatigue on lower extremity kinematics and vertical leg stiffness at landing as experienced by female athletes. Method: The participants in this study were 12 NCAA female intercollegiate soccer players. Participants completed five single-leg drop jumps on their dominant leg every day for 4 days. The first day was completed without intervention to obtain pre-fatigue data and drop jumps on days two through four were completed after a fatigue protocol. Results: A repeated measures MANOVA did not reveal significant differences in post-fatigue peak knee flexion angle, vertical ground reaction forces, or vertical leg stiffness. Despite lack of statistical significance, vertical leg stiffness was increased during post-fatigue testing when compared to pre-fatigue values. Implications: The increased vertical leg stiffness may indicate altered landing techniques in post-fatigue states. If fatigue results in compromised movement patterns, it may explain the increased number of ACL injuries during the end of soccer matches. Suggestions for Future Research: Future research with a larger sample size should include post-fatigue dominant and nondominant leg comparison due to previous conflicting findings regarding which limb is most often injured. Future researchers should also quantify the magnitude of fatigue induced by the fatiguing protocol to document the strength of the independent variable.