How ankles can save footballers’ knees


Keeping your favourite footy player in the game may prove a matter of maths, a Melbourne University researcher has found.

Hossein Mokhtarzadeh used mathematical models to identify the muscles that protect the anterior cruciate ligament, which is often damaged in football knee injuries and costs the game millions of dollars each year

“We are improving our mathematical models to predict and screen athletes who are at a high risk of injury while they play,” says Hossein, a mechanical engineer and research fellow at The University of Melbourne.

“Landing is an inevitable physical activity in many sports, such as football, basketball and volleyball. Upon landing, the anterior cruciate ligament is one of the knee structures most susceptible to injury, with a higher rate of incidence among female athletes,” he says.

During his research, Hossein discovered that it was not only the knee-joint muscles but also the coordination of muscles surrounding the ankle joint that protected the anterior cruciate ligament from injury. He says the study will help develop new neuromuscular training methods and the design of bracing systems, which will benefit coaches, physiotherapists, human movement scientists and athletes.

“If we could only prevent half of the knee injuries in Australian football, we would save more than $60 million a year,” Hossein says.

Victoria State Finalist: Hossein Mokhtarzadeh, University of Melbourne

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