Sports Medicine - Open
School of Medical and Health Sciences / Centre for Human Performance
Sidesteps can impose high demands on the knee joint and lead to non-contact anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries. Understanding how different constraints shape an athlete’s movement strategy and the associated joint demands can help design training interventions to increase injury resilience. Motor capacities, such as muscular strength and power, act as boundaries for the safe execution of perceptual–motor skills and co-determine the emergence of unique movement strategies. Increasing single- and multi-joint strength enables a broader solution space for movement strategies and increases load tolerance. Manipulating task constraints during sidesteps can be used in the training process to systematically expose athletes to increasing demands (on the knee joint or any joint or structure) in preparation for “worst-case” scenarios. In particular, the type and timing of information available influence the preparation time, subsequently affecting the movement strategy and the associated magnitude of external knee joint loading (e.g., knee valgus moment). While an athlete’s perceptual–cognitive skills contribute to the preparation time during in situ scenarios, attempts to further improve those skills with the aim of increasing athlete preparation time prior to “worst-case” scenarios are yet to demonstrate conclusive evidence of transfer to on-field situations. Therefore, in the current article, we reflect on the impact of different interacting constraints that influence the execution of sidesteps during in situ scenarios and impose high demands on the knee joint. Subsequently, we discuss how an integrated perspective, drawing on knowledge and perspectives from strength and conditioning and perception–action, may enhance an athlete’s ability to withstand “worst-case” scenarios and adapt to perform varied movement executions when sidestepping.
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