BACKGROUND: The Y-Balance Test (YBT) is a commonly used technique for the rehabilitation of lower extremity injuries. It is a dynamic balance tool that requires an individual to balance on one leg and reach in three separate directions (anterior, posteromedial and posterolateral) in a controlled manner. Previous research has reported that lower reach distances may increase the risk of a lower extremity injury. Therefore, the aim of this study was to measure these reach distances in collegiate American football players prior to the start of a season and again at the midpoint of the season to examine potential differences in the two time points and between healthy players and those that sustained a lower extremity injury during the season. METHODS: Participants reported to the laboratory for testing on two separate occasions, once in the preseason in late July and again at the midseason in early November. Testing involved the participants balancing on their right leg and reaching out with their left leg on a sliding block as far as possible, then returning to the starting position. This was completed for all three reach directions. Composite scores from the test were generated by first normalizing the reach distances to an individual’s leg length, then by adding the three reach directions together, dividing the result by three times the leg length, and then multiplying the outcome by 100. Participants self-reported any lower extremity injuries that occurred while playing football between the two testing sessions. A 2 (group: injured and healthy) x 2 (time: pre- and mid-season) repeated measures ANOVA was conducted to analyze differences in composite scores. RESULTS: There was not a significant interaction between group and time (F = 2.126, P = .179). There was not a significant main effect for time (F= 2.839, P = .126) (preseason mean composite score = 93.13 ± 7.30 cm; midseason mean composite score = 89.59 ± 11.95 cm). There was no significant main effect for group (F= 1.882, P = .203) (healthy mean composite score = 87.42 ± 7.74 cm; injured mean composite score = 94.64 ± 9.38 cm). CONCLUSIONS: Although no significance was found between the groups, it is still important to practice ongoing monitoring and targeted interventions to enhance lower extremity stability in collegiate football players during the season. A larger sample size should also be included in future studies.

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