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Background: Frontal plane trunk and lower extremity adjustments during unanticipated tasks are hypothesized to influence hip and knee neuromuscular control, and therefore, contribute to anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury risk. The aims of this study were to examine frontal plane trunk/hip kinematics and hip and knee moments (measures of neuromuscular control) during unanticipated straight and side step cut tasks.

Methods: Kinematic and kinetic variables were collected while subjects performed two anticipated tasks, including walking straight (ST) and side step cutting (SS), and two unanticipated tasks (STU and SSU). Foot placement, thorax–pelvis–hip kinematic variables and hip and knee moments were calculated over the first 30% of stance.

Findings: Hip abduction angles and knee moments were significantly affected by task and anticipation. Hip abduction angles decreased, by 4.0–7.68, when comparing the SSU task to the ST, STU and SS tasks. The hip abduction angles were associated with foot placement and lateral trunk orientation.

Interpretation: Hip abduction angles and foot placement, not lateral trunk flexion influence trunk orientation. Anticipation influences hip and knee neuromuscular control and therefore may guide the development of ACL prevention strategies.