The effect of lower inter-limb asymmetries on athletic performance: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Kai Fox*, Liam T. Pearson, Kirsty M. Hicks

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
37 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Inter-limb asymmetry refers to an imbalance in performance between the left and right limbs. Discrepancies throughout asymmetry research does not allow practitioners to confidently understand the effect of inter-limb asymmetries on athletic performance. Therefore, this review summarized the current literature using a meta-analytic approach, conforming to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses guidelines to identify the association between inter-limb asymmetry and athletic performance. A literature search using PubMed, Web of Science and SPORTDiscus databases yielded 11-studies assessing the effect of inter-limb asymmetries, measured via unilateral jump performance, on bilateral jump, change of direction (COD) and sprint performance in adult sports players. The quality of evidence was assessed via a modified Downs and Black checklist and in compliance with the Grading of Recommendations Assessment Development and Evaluation. Correlation coefficients were transformed via Fishers z (Zr), meta-analysed and then re-converted to correlation coefficients. Egger’s regression presented no significant risk of bias. Vertical jump performance was not significantly affected by asymmetry (Zr = 0.053, r = 0.05; P = 0.874), whereas COD and sprint both presented significant weak associations (COD, Zr = 0.243, r = 0.24; Sprint, Zr = 0.203, r = 0.2; P < 0.01). The results demonstrate that inter-limb asymmetries seem to present a negative impact to COD and sprint performance but not vertical jump performance. Practitioners should consider implementing monitoring strategies to identify, monitor and possibly address inter-limb asymmetries, specifically for performance tests underpinned by unilateral movements such as COD and sprint performance.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0286942
Number of pages17
JournalPLoS One
Volume18
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2023

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