How soccer kicks differ in males and females

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Washington, July 10 (ANI): Using motion analysis technique, researchers have explored how soccer kick dynamics differ in males and females.

Researchers at Hospital for Special Surgery say that the underlying causes of gender-based kicking patterns could help lead to better treatment, or even prevention for present and future soccer stars.

With the use of video motion analysis at the Leon Root Motion Analysis Laboratory at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, the researchers examined the dynamics of the kicking motion.

"Prior to this kick study, there had been very little motion analysis to show what was going on during the soccer kick. We know that female soccer players face a greater risk of ACL injury and patellofemoral problems and male players are more at risk for sports hernia. We used motion analysis to determine if the two types of players have different alignment and muscle activation that might correlate to the injury patterns," said Dr. Robert Brophy, lead investigator of the study.

During motion analysis, the kick is looked at in two different ways simultaneously, and the activity of each of the muscles involved is measured based on electrical impulse.

"But you also need to know what the body is doing when you are taking the readings, is it kicking? Standing? And so on," said Sherry Backus, co-author of the study.

"To record what the body is doing while the muscles are working, we attach bright surface markers to different parts of the body. Around the room there are eight to 10 cameras that are trained on the markers, recording what the body is doing. We merge the images from all of the cameras and create a three dimensional picture of the person going through the kicking motion. From there we can match up, frame by frame, the electrical signals we get from the muscles with what the person is doing," she added.

The researchers found that male and female players did differ in both the areas-male players had more activation in the hip flexors of their kicking leg and in their hip abductors of the supporting leg compared to women.

"The hip abductor may be protective against ACL injury and it is interesting that its activation was markedly diminished in women," said Brophy.

Besides, the knee of the supporting leg in female players took a more knock-kneed, or valgus, position, putting more stress on the outside of the knee joint.

The researchers said that the two differences, low activation of the hip abductor and the knee position, could be a factor in the increased ACL injuries seen in female soccer players.

In addition, they also found that female players did not activate their medial quad muscles in their standing leg, one way male players could be protecting their patellofemoral joint from injury.

However, the hip flexor activation in their kicking leg could correlate to the pattern of sports hernia seen in male soccer players.

The researchers claimed that by understanding the body mechanics specific to the sport, it was possible to potentially prevent a large number of injuries from occurring.

The study was presented at this year's American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine meeting in Keystone, Colo. (ANI)

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