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Open Access Review

Biomechanical approaches to understanding the potentially injurious demands of gymnastic-style impact landings

Marianne JR Gittoes* and Gareth Irwin

Author affiliations

Cardiff School of Sport, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Cardiff, Cyncoed Road, Cardiff, UK, CF23 6XD

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Citation and License

Sports Medicine, Arthroscopy, Rehabilitation, Therapy & Technology 2012, 4:4  doi:10.1186/1758-2555-4-4

Published: 13 January 2012

Abstract

Gymnasts are exposed to a high incidence of impact landings due to the execution of repeated dismount performances. Biomechanical research can help inform recent discussions surrounding a proposed rule change in potentially injurious gymnastic dismounting. The review examines existing understanding of the mechanisms influencing the impact loads incurred in gymnastic-style landings achieved using biomechanical approaches. Laboratory-based and theoretical modelling research of inherent and regulatory mechanisms is appraised. The integration of the existing insights into injury prevention interventions studies is further considered in the appraisals. While laboratory-based studies have traditionally been favoured, the difficulty in controlling and isolating mechanisms of interest has partially restricted the understanding gained. An increase in the use of theoretical approaches has been evident over the past two decades, which has successfully enhanced insight into less readily modified mechanisms. For example, the important contribution of mass compositions and 'tuned' mass coupling responses to impact loading has been evidenced. While theoretical studies have advanced knowledge in impact landing mechanics, restrictions in the availability of laboratory-based input data have suppressed the benefits gained. The advantages of integrating laboratory-based and theoretical approaches in furthering scientific understanding of loading mechanisms have been recognised in the literature. Since a multi-mechanism contribution to impact loading has been evident, a deviation away from studies examining isolated mechanisms may be supported for the future. A further scientific understanding of the use of regulatory mechanisms in alleviating a performer's inherent injury predisposition may subsequently be gained and used to inform potential rule changes in gymnastics. While the use of controlled studies for providing scientific evidence for the effectiveness of gymnastics injury counter measures has been advocated over the past decade, a lack of information based on randomised controlled studies or actual evaluation of counter measures in the field setting has been highlighted. The subsequent integration of insight into biomechanical risk factors of landing with clinical practice interventions has been recently advocated.

Keywords:
Impact loading; Laboratory-Based Research; Theoretical Research; Inherent Mechanisms; Regulatory Mechanisms