When puberty strikes: Longitudinal changes in cutting kinematics in 172 high-school female athletes

Lionel Chia, Gregory D. Myer, Timothy E. Hewett, Marnee J. McKay, Justin Sullivan, Kevin R. Ford, Evangelos Pappas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Young female athletes involved in high-speed cutting and change-of-direction sports are particularly susceptible to anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries. Little is known if maturational changes in cutting technique contribute to the increased injury risk. Our objective was to examine longitudinal changes in cutting kinematics in female athletes as they matured through puberty. Design: Longitudinal cohort study Methods: High school female athletes (n=172) performed an unanticipated 45° cutting task in the biomechanics laboratory across two or more pubertal stages. Pubertal stages were classified using a modified Pubertal Maturational Observational Scale (pre-, mid-, or post-pubertal stages). Generalized linear mixed models were used to compare kinematics across pubertal stages. Results: As girls matured through puberty, they displayed a decrease in sagittal-plane hip (1.8-2.6°, p<0.03) and knee range-of-motion (ROM) (2.7-2.9°, p≤0.01), and decreased peak hip (2.9-3.2°, p≤0.02) and knee flexion angles (2.7-2.9°, p≤0.01), which is indicative of greater quadriceps dominance. Peak knee abduction angles also increased as girls progressed through puberty (0.9-1.4°, p≤0.02), suggesting greater ligament dominance. In terms of trunk dominance, there were mixed findings with a decrease in trunk frontal- (2.5-5.7°, p≤0.03) and sagittal-plane ROM (2.0°, p≤0.01), but an increase in trunk transverse-plane ROM (2.8-3.6°, p≤0.02) observed as girls mature. Other significant changes in cutting technique were decreased peak trunk flexion (3.8-7.8°, p≤0.01), and decreased hip flexion (2.9-3.3°, p≤0.02) and knee flexion angles (2.0-3.0°, p≤0.03) at initial contact, suggesting a more upright and stiffer cutting posture. Conclusions: As girls mature through puberty, there is a change in cutting strategy characterized by greater quadriceps and ligament dominance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1290-1295
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Science and Medicine in Sport
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • ACL injuries
  • biomechanics
  • change of direction
  • injury prevention
  • maturation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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