An Analysis of the Biomechanics of Landing of Two Groups of Athletes

Open Access
Adams, Kirk Douglas
Graduate Program:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
January 02, 2013
Committee Members:
  • John Henry Challis, Thesis Advisor
  • Landings
  • ACL
  • Non-contact
  • Gymnasts
  • Swimmers
Athletes, even at an elite level, will perform a skill in many different ways. Even though different methods may all be successful in respect to the sport, certain methods may predispose certain athletes to greater rates of injury. Females, in particular, experience an alarming rate of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries and at rates much higher than males in similar sports. The purpose of this study was to examine the biomechanics of landing from a drop for two groups of female athletes and to compare between the two groups their segmental inertial properties, landing kinematics and kinetics. Motion analysis, ground reaction forces, body segment inertial parameters and resultant joint moments of 8 varsity level female gymnasts and 8 varsity level swimmers performing ten two-footed landings onto a force plate from a nominal drop height of 0.35 meters were analyzed. For almost all body segments, the center of mass location, moment of inertia, and the length for each thigh, shank, and foot were not statistically significantly different between the two groups when normalized for body size. On landing the swimmers exhibited a statistically significant greater range of whole body center of mass motion; this was accompanied by greater ranges of motion at the ankle, knee and hip joints for this group. Almost all of the metrics for ground reaction forces were statistically significantly different between the groups, with the gymnasts having the greater values. Overall the gymnasts exhibited “stiffer” landings compared with the swimmers, in effect the gymnasts made less of an effort to dissipate the forces of the landing task than did the swimmers. The present study did have some limitations, primarily the use of motion analysis in one plane of motion. Future studies would benefit from a full three-dimensional analysis and the inclusion of males to provide another point of comparison.