Lower extremity muscle activation and alignment during the soccer instep and side-foot kicks

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2007 May;37(5):260-8. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2007.2255.


Study design: Controlled laboratory study.

Objectives: To quantify phase duration and lower extremity muscle activation and alignment during the most common types of soccer kick-the instep kick and side-foot kick. A second purpose was to test the hypotheses that different patterns of lower extremity muscle activation occur between the 2 types of kicks and between the kicking limb compared to the support limb.

Background: Soccer players are at risk for lower extremity injury, especially at the knee. Kicking the soccer ball is an essential, common, and distinctive part of a soccer player's activity that plays a role in soccer player injury. Regaining the ability to kick is also essential for soccer athletes to return to play after injury.

Methods: Thirteen male soccer players underwent video motion analysis and electromyography (EMG) of 7 muscles in both the kicking and supporting lower extremity (iliacus, gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, hamstrings, gastrocnemius) and 2 additional muscles in the kicking limb only (hip adductors, tibialis anterior). Five instep and 5 side-foot kicks were recorded for each player. Analysis-of-variance models were used to compare EMG activity between type of kicks and between the kicking and nonkicking lower extremity.

Results: Five phases of kicking were identified: (1) preparation, (2) backswing, (3) limb cocking, (4) acceleration, and (5) follow-through. Comparing the kicking limb between the 2 types of kick, significant interaction effects were identified for the hamstrings (P = .02) and the tibialis anterior (P<.01). Greater activation of the kicking limb iliacus (P<.01), gastrocnemius (P<.01), vastus medialis (P = .016), and hip adductors (P<.01) occurred during the instep kick. Significant differences were seen between the kicking limb and the support limb for all muscles during both types of kick.

Conclusions: Certain lower extremity muscle groups face different demands during the soccer instep kick compared to the soccer side-foot kick. Similarly, the support limb muscles face different demands than the kicking limb during both kicks. Better definition of lower extremity function during kicking provides a basis for improved insight into soccer player performance, injury prevention, and rehabilitation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Electromyography
  • Humans
  • Lower Extremity / physiology*
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Soccer / physiology*