Functional performance deficits in athletes with previous lower extremity injury

Clin J Sport Med. 2002 Mar;12(2):73-8. doi: 10.1097/00042752-200203000-00002.


Objective: To evaluate the influence of previously treated, though clinically resolved, lower extremity injury on performance in a timed 20-meter shuttle run.

Design: Case control study.

Setting: National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I college during the 2000/2001 preparticipation physicals.

Participants: NCAA Division I athletes (n = 213) participated in this research study. Athletes were excluded if they presently had an unresolved lower extremity injury or low back pain.

Main outcome measures: Time to complete a 20-meter shuttle run was recorded. Previous lower extremity injury and college year were recorded via a short questionnaire.

Results: A significantly slower response time on the 20-meter shuttle run was observed in freshman athletes with a history of a lower extremity injury, as compared with freshmen without a previous injury (p = 0.01). No significant difference was noted in non-freshman collegiate athletes regardless of injury history (p = 0.98).

Conclusion: Kinetic chain deficits may exist long after symptomatic recovery from injury resulting in functional deficits, which may be missed on a standard physical assessment. The slower shuttle run times observed in freshmen with previous lower extremity injury may be a manifestation of insufficient treatment received at the high school level or the benefit of a mandatory core strengthening program in returning athletes. Further study is necessary to identify and validate the cause-and-effect relationship.

Clinical relevance: This study may support residual functional deficits in incoming college athletes, which may be related to inadequate care in the high school setting.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Athletic Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Athletic Injuries / rehabilitation
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Humans
  • Leg Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Leg Injuries / rehabilitation
  • Low Back Pain / physiopathology*
  • Recovery of Function
  • Running / injuries*
  • Sports
  • Surveys and Questionnaires