Washington: Detailed analysis of the three most important ligaments in the ankle could soon serve as the starting point for the development of training techniques for handball players to help them reduce injury risk, researchers say.
Handball is one of the top four sports, at least as far as the risk of injury is concerned. In particular, the jump shot frequently causes sprained ankles, tears to the ligaments connecting the bones of the foot and the lower leg. One of the goals of sports science is to minimize sporting injuries while also improving performance.
To this end, many trainers and sports scientists are making increasing use of hi-tech methods, such as the computer modelling of moving joints.
To understand why the ankle is so prone to injury during the jump shot, a team of scientists headed by Christian Peham at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna) has now investigated the stresses and strains to which the three most important ligaments in the ankle are subjected in a jump shot.
The scientists studied digitized videos of handball players in action in combination with an anatomically precise and movable computer model of the human body. The measurements showed that there was more strain on the ligaments when the athletes land than when they jump.
The ankle turned out to be particularly instable in the very short period of landing.
“When you land, there are additional strains on the ligaments that are hard to predict in advance and that have a particularly high risk of causing injury,” Peham said.
“If we understand the anatomy of the ankle, its movements and the strains on it, we’ll be able to given trainers tips on how to approach training to minimize the chances of injury,” Peham added.
The study has been published in Journal of Biomechanics.