"Maybe the injured people don't use the same landing strategies, or their strategies aren't as effective," Brown said, adding that the study was a snapshot in time, not a long-term follow-up. By the time subjects were included in the research study, they have usually already injured themselves. "We don't know if they are this way because of the injury, or if they got this injury because they land this way."
The current study looked at the knees, hips and ankles in isolation, and the next step for the team will be to examine the joints in combination. If future studies allow the researchers to identify particular movement patterns as helpful, the research could be directly translated into new techniques for rehabilitation therapists and the public in general.
Brown said the current study builds on a similar study published in June 2011 that examined ankle injuries based on the amount of clearance between the foot and the ground. In that study, she found that participants with previous ankle injuries kept their feet closer to the ground, with their toes pointing downward, while running.
"I always try to encourage people who are having a lot of problems with their ankle to see a health care professional who would be able to help them," she said. "There are negative long-term consequences to ankle instability, such as ankle osteoarthritis, that may be preventable with treatment."
|Contact: Cathleen Brown|
University of Georgia