Modifiable Factors Associated with Knee Abduction During Weight-Bearing Activities: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


BACKGROUND: Increased knee abduction angle during activity is suggested to be a risk factor for sustaining an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury or developing patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS). Knowledge of the modifiable mechanisms that are associated with increased knee abduction will aid in the appropriate design of preventive and rehabilitative strategies for these injuries.

OBJECTIVE: Our objective was to systematically review modifiable mechanisms contributing to increased knee abduction in healthy people and in individuals with an ACL injury or PFPS.

METHODS: We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis according to Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. We searched the databases MEDLINE, CINAHL, and Embase until September 2015. Inclusion criteria were studies in healthy individuals and/or those with ACL injury or PFPS reporting (1) muscle strength, muscle activation, proprioception, and/or range of motion (ROM) and (2) knee abduction angle assessed with either motion analysis or visual observation during weight-bearing activity.

RESULTS: In total, 33 articles were included. Reduced trunk strength, reduced gluteus maximus amplitude, decreased ankle ROM, and increased hip external rotation ROM were moderately associated with increased knee abduction angle (r -0.34 or higher, standardized difference in means (SDM) greater than -0.39, p < 0.05, articles n = 3, total sample size n = 101-114) in healthy individuals. Decreased strength of hip abductors, external rotators, and extensors and knee flexors were at most weakly associated with increased knee abduction angle (r ≤ 0.21, p = 0.013-0.426, articles n = 2-9, total sample size n = 80-311). Too few articles included patients with knee injury to be included in any meta-analysis.

CONCLUSION: The associations identified in this review indicate that investigation of strengthening of the trunk muscles, and improvement of gluteus maximus activation and ankle ROM to change knee kinematics is merited. Studies on modifiable factors associated with increased knee abduction angle in people with knee injury are needed.


External organisations
  • Australian Catholic University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Physiotherapy
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1647–1662
JournalSports Medicine
Issue number11
Early online date2016 Apr 5
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Nov
Publication categoryResearch

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