COMPARISON OF LANDING KINEMATICS BETWEEN EXPERIENCED MALE AND FEMALE ARTISTIC GYMNASTS FOLLOWING A BACK TUCK DISMOUNT FROM THE HIGH BAR.
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Non-contact anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries during dismounts have been identified as one of the most significant short and long term injuries affecting a gymnasts’ career, with females 2.4-9.7 times more vulnerable than males. Previous research has investigated dismounts and the potential of injury, however the landing height and task were disparate to any skills a gymnast would habitually perform. Therefore, the purpose of the study was to assess the kinematic landing strategies adopted by male and female gymnasts when performing a back tucked dismount from the high bar. Following ethical approval, two male and two female experienced gymnasts from Cardiff Metropolitan University volunteered to participate in the study. Two CODAmotion scanners were used to collect lower extremity kinematic data in the frontal and sagittal planes. Coordination of the lower extremities were also calculated using angle-angle and vector coding techniques. The main findings of the study identified that female gymnasts utilise larger knee and hip ranges of motion together with larger peak angular velocities of the ankle during landing. Conflicting with previous research, male gymnasts were found to land with greater lower extremity extension than females. Nevertheless both male and female gymnasts illustrated potentially harmful landing kinematics in the sagittal plane, regardless of their sex. One male gymnast emerged as the most vulnerable to ACL injuries due to the significant degrees of knee valgus demonstrated on impact. For the gymnasts included in this study, individual landing mechanics appear to be the primary cause of ACL predisposition and not biological sex differences. The coordination patterns illustrated each gymnast to have a “signature” landing style with little variability, consequentially allowing the same mechanical structures to experience overload augmenting the risk of injury. The possible harmful landing strategies adopted by gymnasts is concurrent with that of previous literature, and has been suggested to occur due to the aesthetic importance of landing in gymnastics; however the traditional sex differences often reported were not noted in this case. This study indicates the importance of appreciating gymnasts’ individual variability and not always generalising them as a population in order to avoid the possibility of debilitative injury. Furthermore the importance of a potential rule change regarding the balance between performance and injury could also be highlighted due to the lack of individual variability demonstrated on landing. These implications could be used in a training environment in order to reduce the potential risk of injury during repetitive high bar dismounts.
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