The knee and lower limb injuries. Should we abandon functional testing?

Most of you by now will know that I am not a fan of static athlete assessment, and much prefer to try to use dynamic testing to put the athlete as close to the environment in which they were injured.

I also think that dynamic testing gives important information about potential weakness that can translate into gait or movement patterns that might lead to overload and therefore injury.

Specifically, I always look at, and teach in my Dynamic Athlete Assessment Protocol, things like the Single leg Squat Test (SLSq) and stabilised drop jump, believing these provide important information about the asssocaition between frontal plane knee control and lower extremity injuries.

The theory goes along the lines that if the athleete is unable to stabilise a SLSq or drop jump, this will translate into frontal plane knee instability during gait, which will have a potentially injurious effect lower down the kinetic chain, think Trendelenburg.

A brand new paper sheds some interesting light on this type of testing, and while underlining the fact that an observed high frontal plane knee angle (valgus angle if you like) is  associated with an increased risk of lower limb and ankle injury, the actual tests are not reliable or sensitive enough to use as a screening tool for future injury.

Simon Bartold
Director of Bartold Clinical