Barbell Squat Relative Strength as an Identifier for Lower Extremity Injury in Collegiate Athletes
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The aim of the study was to determine the efficacy of using the relative strength level of Division I athletes in One repetition maximum (1RM) barbell back squat as an identifier of seasonal lower extremity (LE) injury. One repetition maximum back squat (kg) and reported LE injuries were retrospectively collected for Division I male football (n = 46), female volleyball and softball athletes (n = 25). Maximum preseason relative (body mass normalized) back squat strength values were compared with 2 analyses of variance (p < 0.05) between injured and uninjured male (football) and female athletes (softball & volleyball). Relative back squat strength was significantly lower in injured athletes than uninjured athletes in both men (F = 6.03, p = 0.02) and women (F = 4.68, p = 0.04) with a moderate to large effect size (g = 0.86–0.85). These data indicate the potential of 1RM back squat relative strength serving as one tool in multi-factor preseason screening for LE injury risk in these sports. Male athletes with relative squat strength below 2.2 and female athletes below 1.6 in these sports could be more susceptible to LE injury over a season. Strength professionals should consider using body mass normalized 1RM back squats as a screening tool for seasonal LE injury risk in college athletes.