Predicting the Risk of Injuries Through Assessments of Asymmetric Lower Limb Functional Performance: A Prospective Study of 415 Youth Taekwondo Athletes

Orthop J Sports Med. 2023 Aug 16;11(8):23259671231185586. doi: 10.1177/23259671231185586. eCollection 2023 Aug.


Background: The impact of interlimb asymmetries on sport injuries is unclear because of inconsistent findings, and there is a lack of research on youth athletes and the sport of taekwondo.

Purpose: To examine the effects of functional interlimb asymmetries on noncontact lower limb injuries in youth athletes.

Study design: Cohort study; Level of evidence, 2.

Methods: A total of 415 taekwondo athletes (318 boys and 97 girls) aged 6 to 17 years underwent baseline testing to determine interlimb asymmetries through the single-leg countermovement jump (CMJ), hop, and triple hop tests as well as the Star Excursion Balance Test. The athletes were then evaluated for 12 months to observe the occurrence of noncontact lower limb injuries.

Results: During the study, 98 athletes (70 boys and 28 girls) sustained at least 1 noncontact lower limb injury. Athletes with higher interlimb asymmetries in single-leg CMJ height showed a significantly increased risk of noncontact lower limb injuries (boys: odds ratio [OR], 1.053 [95% CI, 1.027-1.080], P < .001; girls: OR, 1.070 [95% CI, 1.016-1.128], P = .011). Asymmetry in single-leg CMJ height of ≥15.28% was found to be the cutoff point for predicting noncontact lower limb injuries in boys (OR, 4.652 [95% CI, 2.577-8.398]; P < .001).

Conclusion: This study highlights the utility of interlimb asymmetries in unilateral jump performance as a tool for assessing the risk of noncontact lower limb injuries in youth taekwondo athletes of both sexes. A proper evaluation of interlimb asymmetries may improve prevention strategies for youth athletes.

Keywords: functional performance; interlimb asymmetry; sport injury.