Running-related injuries are common in distance runners. Strength training is used for performance enhancement and injury prevention. However, the association between maximal strength and distance-running biomechanics is unclear.
To determine the relationship between maximal knee- and hip-extensor strength and running biomechanics previously associated with injury risk.
A total of 36 collegiate distance runners (26 men, 10 women; age = 20.0 ± 1.5 years, height = 1.74 ± 0.09 m, mass = 61.97 ± 8.26 kg).
Strength was assessed using the 1-repetition maximum (1RM) back squat and maximal voluntary isometric contractions of the knee extensors and hip extensors. Three-dimensional running biomechanics were assessed overground at a self-selected speed. Running variables were the peak instantaneous vertical loading rate; peak forward trunk-lean angle; knee-flexion, internal-rotation, and -abduction angles and internal moments; and hip-extension, internal-rotation, and -adduction angles and internal moments. Separate stepwise linear regression models were used to examine the associations between strength and biomechanical outcomes (ΔR2) after accounting for sex, running speed, and foot-strike index.
Greater 1RM back-squat strength was associated with a larger peak knee-flexion angle (ΔR2 = 0.110, ΔP = .045) and smaller peak knee internal-rotation angle (ΔR2 = 0.127, ΔP = .03) and internal-rotation moment (ΔR2 = 0.129, ΔP = .03) after accounting for sex, speed, and foot-strike index. No associations were found between 1RM back-squat strength and hip kinematics or kinetics, trunk lean, or vertical loading rate. Hip- and knee-extensor maximal voluntary isometric contractions were also not associated with any biomechanical variables.
Greater 1RM back-squat strength was weakly associated with a larger peak knee-flexion angle and smaller knee internal-rotation angle and moment in collegiate distance runners. Runners who are weaker in the back-squat exercise may exhibit running biomechanics associated with the development of knee-related injuries.