Effects of inter-limb asymmetries on physical and sports performance: a systematic review
The prevalence of inter-limb asymmetries has been reported in numerous studies across a wide range of sports and physical qualities; however, few have analysed their effects on physical and sports performance. A systematic review of the literature was undertaken using the Medline and SPORT Discus databases, with all articles required to meet a specified criteria based on a quality review. Eighteen articles met the inclusion criteria, relating participant asymmetry scores to physical and sports performance measures. The findings of this systematic review indicate that inter-limb differences in strength may be detrimental to jumping, kicking and cycling performance. When inter-limb asymmetries are quantified during jumping based exercises, they have been primarily used to examine their association with change of direction speed with mixed findings. Inter-limb asymmetries have also been quantified in anthropometry, sprinting, dynamic balance and sport-specific actions, again with inconsistent findings. However, all results have been reported using associative analysis with physical or sport performance metrics with no randomised controlled trials included. Further research is warranted to understand the mechanisms that underpin inter-limb differences and the magnitude of performance changes that can be accounted for by these asymmetries.
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