Comparison of muscle strength and flexibility between the preferred and non-preferred leg in English soccer players

Ergonomics. 2005;48(11-14):1568-75. doi: 10.1080/00140130500101585.


Most soccer players have a favoured foot for kicking the ball, and it is believed that this preference may lead to an asymmetry in the strength and flexibility of the lower extremities. This study was designed to determine whether asymmetry in strength and flexibility are present in the legs of soccer players.Forty-one elite and sub-elite soccer players (age 23.4 +/- 3.8 years; height 1.81 +/- 0.06 m; body mass 81.7 +/- 9.9 kg) were studied (data are presented as mean +/- SD). The dynamic strength of knee flexors (hamstrings) and knee extensors (quadriceps) was measured using an isokinetic dynamometer at angular velocities of 1.05, 2.09, 5.23 rad/s (in a concentric mode) and 2.09 rad/s (in an eccentric mode). The concentric strength ratio (hamstrings(conc)/quadriceps(conc)) and the dynamic control ratio (hamstrings(ecc)/quadriceps(conc)) were computed. Hip joint flexibility (in flexion) was measured using a goniometer.A significant difference between the preferred and non-preferred leg was found in the knee flexors at 2.09 rad/s (119 +/- 22 versus 126 +/- 24 Nm; P < 0.05) and for the dynamic control ratio (0.79 +/- 0.13 versus 0.84 +/- 0.16 Nm; P < 0.05). In both cases the knee flexors of the preferred leg were weaker than those of the non-preferred leg. A total of 28 of the 41 players (68%) had significant musculoskeletal abnormality (imbalance >10%) in one or more specific muscle groups. No significant differences were found in flexibility of the hip joint between the preferred and non-preferred leg (P > 0.05). It is concluded that the lower strength of the knee flexor muscles of the preferred leg may be associated with the differential use of these muscle during the kicking action and thus constitutes a unique training effect associated with soccer. This in turn can lead to muscular imbalance which is generally regarded as an injury risk factor.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Hip Joint / physiology
  • Humans
  • Knee
  • Leg*
  • Male
  • Muscle Contraction*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Musculoskeletal Abnormalities / etiology
  • Pliability
  • Risk
  • Soccer / physiology*
  • United Kingdom