Purpose: The principle of specificity suggests that it may be beneficial to undertake plyometric drop-jump training when fatigued. However, this may increase peak-impact accelerations and therefore increase the risk of injury. The aims of the study were to determine if whole-body fatigue (i) increased peak-impact acceleration on the proximal tibia during plyometric drop jumps and (ii) produced associated changes in knee-joint kinematics during landing.
Methods: Fifteen physically active male subjects performed drop jumps (30 and 50 cm) when nonfatigued and when fatigued. Whole-body fatigue was induced using a treadmill running protocol that incrementally increased effort. Peak-impact acceleration was measured with an accelerometer attached to the proximal tibia. Knee-joint kinematics were assessed during the eccentric phase: angle at initial touch down, maximum angle of flexion, range of motion, and peak angular velocity.
Results: Fatigue caused a significant increase in tibial impact acceleration and peak angular velocity in drop jumps from 30 cm (154.9 ± 93.8 vs 192.6 ± 103.9 m·s−2: 24%; 675.3 ± 60.7 vs 811.4 ± 68.9 °·s−1: 20%), but not from 50 cm (222.4 ± 74.9 vs 234.1 ± 83.9 m·s−2: 5%; 962.0 ± 189.0 vs 984.4 ± 189.3 °·s−1: 2.6%), with no associated change in the knee-joint angles assessed. It was argued, however, that rather than the neuromuscular system being selectively affected by fatigue at 30 cm and not 50 cm, drop jumps from 50 cm resulted in larger-impact accelerations with the neuromuscular system having only a limited ability to attenuate them per se, whether fatigued or nonfatigued.
Conclusion: Care should be taken when performing drop jumps from a height of 30 cm in a fatigued state because of the reduced capacity to attenuate impact accelerations at the tibia, which may be associated with an increased risk of injury.