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Carla Van Der Merwe

Doctor of Philosophy, (Sport & Exercise Science)
Study Completed: 2020
College of Health


Thesis Title
Proof-of-concept of a 16-week foot muscle specific intervention program on non-contact anterior cruciate ligament and lateral ankle sprain injury risk

Impaired foot function is thought to play a role in increasing non-contact anterior cruciate ligament rupture (ACLR) and lateral ankle sprain (LAS) risk in sports with high intensity, unanticipated changes of direction. No literature exists on foot muscle-specific prophylactic programmes aiming to reduce ACLR and/or LAS risk. Carla van der Merwe’s study aimed to provide proof-of-concept of the prophylactic role training intrinsic and extrinsic foot muscles may have on ACLR and LAS injury risk. Female court sport athletes were matched for sport and BMI and then randomly placed in either the training (TG) or control group (CG). The TG completed a 16-week progressive foot-muscle specific intervention programme. Compliance with the intervention was poor compared to similar intervention studies. However, TG showed increasing mid- and forefoot stiffness and a trend towards decreases in some ACLR and LAS risk factors compared to the CG. This justifies the inclusion of foot muscle-specific training in current ACL and LAS prophylactic programmes.

Dr Philip Fink
Associate Professor Sarah Shultz
Dr Bob Colborne