Master's Projects (Biology and Wildlife)
Comparison of lower body segment alignment of elite level hockey players to age-matched non-hockey playersLower body overuse and insidious onset injuries are thought to have an underlying biomechanical component which may be predisposing to injury. The purpose of this study was to compare lower body biomechanical characteristics for elite hockey players to matched controls. I hypothesize that elite hockey players have a greater degree of anterior pelvic tilt, greater varus knee angle, a higher foot arch and feet held in parallel more during gait than a matched non-skating population. Measures were taken of elite level, college aged, male hockey players and compared to cross country runners (ten subjects in each group) who served as controls for trunk angle, pelvic tilt angle, knee alignment, (varus/valgus angle), foot angle, arch index (arch height), hip, center of range of motion, hip external rotation, hip internal rotation, hip total range of motion (ROM), knee transverse plane ROM, and step width. The results obtained support the hypothesis for anterior pelvic tilt and foot angle during gait. Although knee angle was in the expected varus direction it was not significant and no differences were observed in the foot arch between the groups. All other measurements not directly related to the hypothesis were not significantly different with the exception of mean step width. The obtained results are important as recent literature describes a lower body posture of medial collapse into "dynamic valgus" as being predisposing to injury. Results show, on the spectrum from lower body varus to lower body valgus, hockey players are on the varus side of the spectrum in all attributes except arch height, which was similar in both populations. Since lower body alignment is thought to be coupled, this inconsistency appears contrary to the "medial collapse into dynamic valgus" model and may explain why foot orthotics and athletic shoes used as an injury intervention often fail.