An examination of lower limb asymmetry in ankle isometric force control

Hum Mov Sci. 2018 Feb:57:40-49. doi: 10.1016/j.humov.2017.11.004. Epub 2017 Nov 12.


While asymmetries have been observed between the dominant and non-dominant legs, it is unclear whether they have different abilities in isometric force control (IFC). The purpose of this study was to compare ankle IFC between the legs. IFC is important for stabilization rather than object manipulation, and people typically use their non-dominant leg for stabilization tasks. Additionally, studies suggested that a limb can better acquire a motor task when the control mechanism of the task is related to what the limb is specialized for. We hypothesized that the non-dominant leg would better (1) control ankle IFC with speed and accuracy, and (2) acquire an ankle IFC skill through direct learning and transfer of learning. Two participant groups practiced an IFC task using either their dominant or non-dominant ankle. In a virtual environment, subjects moved a cursor to hit 24 targets in a maze by adjusting the direction and magnitude of ankle isometric force with speed (measured by the time required to hit all targets or movement time) and accuracy (number of collisions to a maze wall). Both groups demonstrated similar movement time and accuracy between the dominant and non-dominant limbs before practicing the task. After practice, both groups showed improvement in both variables on both the practiced and non-practiced sides (p < .01), but no between-group difference was detected in the degree of improvement on each side. The ability to control and acquire the IFC skill was similar between the legs, which did not support the brain is lateralized for ankle IFC.

Keywords: Ankle; Functional asymmetry; Inter limb transfer; Isometric force control; Laterality.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Ankle / physiology*
  • Ankle Joint / physiology*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction / physiology*
  • Learning
  • Leg / physiology*
  • Male
  • Motor Skills
  • Movement*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Transfer, Psychology
  • Young Adult