The aim of this study was to compare the movement patterns and underlying energetics of individuals with chronic ankle instability (CAI) to ankle sprain ‘copers’ during a landing task. Twenty-eight (age 23.2 ± 4.9 years; body mass 75.5 ± 13.9 kg; height 1.7 ± 0.1 m) participants with CAI and 42 (age 22.7 ± 1.7 years; body mass 73.4 ± 11.3 kg; height 1.7 ± 0.1 m) ankle sprain ‘copers’ were evaluated 1 year after incurring a first-time lateral ankle sprain injury. Kinematics and kinetics of the hip, knee and ankle joints from 200 ms pre-initial contact (IC) to 200 ms post-IC, in addition to the vertical component of the landing ground reaction force, were acquired during performance of a drop land task. The CAI group adopted a position of increased hip flexion during the landing descent on their involved limb. This coincided with a reduced post-IC flexor pattern at the hip and increased overall hip joint stiffness compared to copers (-0.01 ± 0.05 vs 0.02 ± 0.05°/Nm kg-1, p = 0.03).
Individuals with CAI display alterations in hip joint kinematics and energetics during a unipodal landing task compared to LAS ‘copers’. These alterations may be responsible for the increased risk of injury experienced by individuals with CAI during landing manoeuvres. Thus, clinicians must recognise the potential for joints proximal to the affected ankle to contribute to impaired function following an acute lateral ankle sprain injury and to develop rehabilitation protocols accordingly.