Robert Trivers, Bernhard Fink, Mark Russell, Kristofor McCarty, Bruce James, and Brian G Palestis (2014)

Lower body symmetry and running performance in elite Jamaican track and field athletes

PloS One, 9(11):e113106.

In a study of degree of lower body symmetry in 73 elite Jamaican track and field athletes we show that both their knees and ankles (but not their feet) are–on average–significantly more symmetrical than those of 116 similarly aged controls from the rural Jamaican countryside. Within the elite athletes, events ranged from the 100 to the 800 m, and knee and ankle asymmetry was lower for those running the 100 m dashes than those running the longer events with turns. Nevertheless, across all events those with more symmetrical knees and ankles (but not feet) had better results compared to international standards. Regression models considering lower body symmetry combined with gender, age and weight explain 27 to 28% of the variation in performance among athletes, with symmetry related to about 5% of this variation. Within 100 m sprinters, the results suggest that those with more symmetrical knees and ankles ran faster. Altogether, our work confirms earlier findings that knee and probably ankle symmetry are positively associated with sprinting performance, while extending these findings to elite athletes.

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