SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1991

Flexibility of the Human Knee as a Result of Varus/Valgus and Axial Moments in Vivo: Experiments and Results


Knee ligamentous injuries persist in the sport of Alpine skiing. To better understand the load mechanisms that lead to injury, pure varus/valgus and pure axial moments were applied both singly and in combination to the right knees of six human test subjects. The corresponding relative knee rotations in three degrees of freedom were measured. Knee flexion angles for each test subject were 15 and 60° for the individual moments and 60° for the combination moments. For both knee flexion angles, hip flexion angle was 0°. Leg muscles were quiescent and axial force was minimal during all tests. Tables of data include sample statistics for each of four flexibility parameters in each loading direction.

Data were analyzed statistically to test for significant differences in flexibility parameters between the test conditions. In flexing the knee from 15 to 60°, the resulting knee rotations under single moments depended on flexion angle with varus, valgus, and internal rotations increasing significantly. Also, rotations were different depending on load direction; varus rotation was significantly different and greater than valgus rotation at both flexion angles. Also external rotation was significantly different and greater than internal at 15° flexion but not 60° flexion. Coupled rotations under single moments were also observed. Applying pure varus/valgus moments resulted in coupled external/internal rotations that were inconsistent and hence not significant. Applying pure axial moments resulted in consistent and hence significant varus/valgus rotations; an external axial moment induced varus rotation and an internal axial moment induced valgus rotation. For combination moments, varus/valgus rotations decreased significantly from those rotations at similar load levels in the single moment studies. Also, a varus moment significantly increased external rotation and a valgus moment significantly decreased internal rotation. These differences indicate significant interaction between corresponding load combinations. These results suggest that load interaction is a potentially important phenomenon in knee injury mechanics.

Author Information

Mills, OS
University of California, Davis, CA
Hull, ML
University of California, Davis, CA
Price: $25.00
Contact Sales
Reprints and Permissions
Reprints and copyright permissions can be requested through the
Copyright Clearance Center
Developed by Committee: F27
Pages: 35–56
DOI: 10.1520/STP17632S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5164-2
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-1405-0