Vertical stiffness is not related to anterior cruciate ligament elongation in professional rugby union players.

Ben Serpell, Jennie SCARVELL, Mark Pickering, Nick BALL, John Warmenhoven, Paul N. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
45 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Novel research surrounding anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury is necessary because ACL injury rates have remained unchanged for several decades. An area of ACL risk mitigation which has not been well researched relates to vertical stiffness. The relationship between increased vertical stiffness and increased ground reaction force suggests that vertical stiffness may be related to ACL injury risk. However, given that increased dynamic knee joint stability has been shown to be associated with vertical stiffness, it is possible that modification of vertical stiffness could help to protect against injury. We aimed to determine whether vertical stiffness is related to measures known to load, or which represent loading of, the ACL.
Methods: This was a cross-sectional observational study of 11 professional Australian rugby players. Knee kinematics and ACL elongation were measured from a 4-dimensional model of a hopping task which simulated the change of direction manoeuvre typically observed when non-contact ACL injury occurs. The model was generated from a CT scan of the participant's knee registered frame by frame to fluoroscopy images of the hopping task. Vertical stiffness was calculated from force plate data.
Results: There was no association found between vertical stiffness and anterior tibial translation (ATT) or ACL elongation (r=-0.05; p=0.89, and r=-0.07; p=0.83, respectively). ATT was related to ACL elongation (r=0.93; p=0.0001).
Conclusions: Vertical stiffness was not associated with ACL loading in this cohort of elite rugby players but a novel method for measuring ACL elongation in vivo was found to have good construct validity
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere000150
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalBMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016


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