Baseline assessments of strength and balance performance and bilateral asymmetries in collegiate athletes

Review written by Stephen King info

Key Points

  1. In return to play testing, performance of the injured limb should be within a certain percentile of the normative data of matched controls.
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NCAA student athlete injury rates have not changed since 1981! A history of previous injury has been identified as a risk factor for future injuries, and the contralateral limb is commonly used as a reference to guide the rehabilitation of the injured limb. Traditionally, a limb symmetry index greater than 90% or an asymmetry index less than 10% for a variety of tests is used as return-to-play criteria (3). However, research has shown injury can decrease performance on both sides of the body (1). Therefore, athletes often achieve the symmetry with decreased performance on the opposite limb, leaving them with less capacity than prior to sustaining the initial injury. More recently, research indicates performance of the injured limb should be within a certain percentile of the normative data of matched controls (3). However, to date there is a lack of normative data around many functional performance tests in different sporting populations. This study looked to develop normative data in the countermovement jump (CMJ), maximum push up test (MPU), anterior reach of the Star Excursion Balance Test (SEBT) and Upper Quarter Y-Balance Test (UQYBT) in 14 different sporting populations.

Injury can result in decreased performance on both sides of the body.
This study reaffirms and solidifies the normal cut off point used for traditional return to sport testing, with asymmetries less than 10% required before returning to sport, regardless of limb dominance or chosen sport.


The authors took a large cohort of 304 males and 195 females from 14 different college sports and performed a maximum push-up test to assess upper extremity strength, a countermovement jump test to assess lower extremity strength, an upper extremity

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