Changes in Fatigue, Multiplanar Knee Laxity, and Landing Biomechanics During Intermittent Exercise

"Context: Knee laxity increases during exercise. However, no one, to our knowledge, has examined whether these increases contribute to higher-risk landing biomechanics during prolonged, fatiguing exercise. Objectives: To examine associations between changes in fatigue (measured as sprint time [SPTIME]), multiplanar knee laxity (anterior-posterior [APLAX], varus-valgus [VVLAX] knee laxity, and internal-external rotation [IERLAX]) knee laxity and landing biomechanics during prolonged, intermittent exercise. Design: Descriptive laboratory study. Setting: Laboratory and gymnasium. Patients or Other Participants: A total of 30 male (age = 20.3 ± 2.0 years, height = 1.79 ± 0.05 m, mass = 75.2 ± 7.2 kg) and 29 female (age = 20.5 ± 2.3 years, height = 1.67 ± 0.08 m, mass = 61.8 ± 9.0 kg) competitive athletes. Intervention(s): A 90-minute intermittent exercise protocol (IEP) designed to simulate the physiologic and biomechanical demands of a soccer match. Main Outcome Measure(s): We measured SPTIME, APLAX, and landing biomechanics before and after warm-up, every 15 minutes during the IEP, and every 15 minutes for 1 hour after the IEP. We measured VVLAX and IERLAX before and after the warm-up, at 45 and 90 minutes during the IEP, and at 30 minutes after the IEP. We used hierarchical linear modeling to examine associations between exercise-related changes in SPTIME and knee laxity with exercise-related changes in landing biomechanics while controlling for initial (before warm-up) knee laxity. Results: We found that SPTIME had a more global effect on landing biomechanics in women than in men, resulting in a more upright landing and a reduction in landing forces and out-of-plane motions about the knee. As APLAX increased with exercise, women increased their knee internal-rotation motion (P = .02), and men increased their hip-flexion motion and energy-absorption (P = .006) and knee-extensor loads (P = .04). As VVLAX and IERLAX increased, women went through greater knee-valgus motion and dorsiflexion and absorbed more energy at the knee (P ≤ .05), whereas men were positioned in greater hip external and knee internal rotation and knee valgus throughout the landing (P = .03). The observed fatigue- and laxity-related changes in landing biomechanics during exercise often depended on initial knee laxity. Conclusions: Both exercise-related changes in fatigue and knee laxity were associated with higher-risk landing biomechanics during prolonged exercise. These relationships were more pronounced in participants with greater initial knee laxity."