Q&A: CAN ASSESSING SQUAT MOVEMENTS IDENTIFY INJURY RISK?

What does current research say about assessing injury risk, encouraging clients to lose weight and improving older people’s quality of life?

by TONY NUÑEZ, PHD

CAN ASSESSING SQUAT MOVEMENTS IDENTIFY INJURY RISK?

Assessing injury risk is complex and multifaceted, but research partially funded by NASM suggests that analyzing two foundational movements—double and single-leg squats—may provide clues to an athlete’s likelihood of injury.

The study recruited, assessed and monitored 115 first-year NCAA Division I athletes (51 women; 64 men) who performed double and single-leg squats in 3 sets of 5 repetitions (on each leg for the singles). Trained assessors viewed the movements from three angles and scored them for proper form. Scores were statistically adjusted into quartiles, and study participants were categorized as poor or non-poor movers. Errors such as forward lean, foot turnouts and weight shift for double-leg squats, and trunk/hip shift, knee valgus and hip drop/hike for single-leg squats, were most frequent among poor movers.

Researchers determined that athletes who made more errors had more lower extremity injuries than those who performed well. However, they strongly advised using multiple criteria—not just these two squat varieties—to assess injury risk. They also said further research on performing squat assessments must be done to determine the magnitude of their usefulness.

REFERENCE: Eckard, T., et al. 2018. Association between double-leg squat and single-leg squat performance and injury incidence among incoming NCAA Division I athletes: A prospective cohort study. Physical Therapy in Sport, 34, 192–200.

Meet our experts

AFM_Author_Nunez TONY P. NUÑEZ, PHD, is an assistant professor in exercise science at Metropolitan State University of Denver. He is an active researcher and presenter in the exercise physiology and fitness field.

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