A common mechanism of leg injuries for young athletes can be due to improper landing when jumping. The most frequent error includes collapsing at the knees upon landing, known as valgus. This has been shown as an important predictor of non-contact ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury risk in the knee. Female athletes are more commonly predisposed to this type of injury, as opposed to males. Ankle injuries can often occur with an improper landing. This is often due to pronation (or collapsing) at the feet upon landing.
Some common dysfunctions that result in improper landing can be poor core control or weakness in the hip stabilizers (gluteus medius muscle). Here are specific reminders to keep in mind to help prevent injury when jumping and landing:
- Contract the trunk stabilizers by gently pulling the belly button up and in towards the shoulder blades.
- Keep the hips behind your feet.
- Do not let your knees fall ahead of your toes or cave in towards each other.
- Keep feet shoulder-width apart to maintain a good base of support for balance.
- Land softly on the balls of the feet to help absorb the force of the landing.