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Physical Therapy in Sport 13 (2012) 238e242

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Physical Therapy in Sport


journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/ptsp

Original research

Asymmetry in multi-directional jumping tasks


Jennifer K. Hewit a, *, John B. Cronin a, b, Patria A. Hume a
a
Sport Performance Research Institute New Zealand, AUT University, Private Bag 92006, Auckland 1020, New Zealand
b
School of Exercise, Biomedical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, 100 Joondalup Drive, Joondalup, W.A. 6027, Australia

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: Objectives: Quantify and compare average symmetry indexes (ASI) across jumping directions (vertical,
Received 1 June 2011 lateral and horizontal) and variables (jump distance and height, peak force and peak power) in a non-
Received in revised form injured population of netball players.
28 November 2011
Methods: Nineteen sub-elite netball players (age: 19.5  1.1 years, body mass: 75.1  11.8 kg, height:
Accepted 12 December 2011
177.6  5.2 cm) performed three single-leg countermovement jumps from a force plate in the vertical,
horizontal and lateral directions. Force, power and jump height ASIs were calculated from force plate
Keywords:
data. Jump distance ASI was calculated as the distance jumped.
Leg power
Unilateral
Results: Individual ASIs ranged from 0.0 to 48.6% while averaged ASIs ranged from 3.1% (peak force) to
Countermovement jump 11.4% (peak power). Signicant (p  0.05) ASI differences were observed between vertical force (3.0%)
Asymmetry and power (9.2%) (p 0.02), horizontal power (11.4%) and jump distance (4.6%) (p < 0.001), horizontal
force (8.0%) and distance (4.6%) (p < 0.001) and lateral power (10.0%) and jump distance (6.2%)
(p 0.05). The greatest ASI was found for the lateral direction (8.4  1.2% averaged across the three
variables).
Conclusions: There appears to be some variation in the magnitude of the ASI depending on the variable
and direction used to quantify the asymmetry. Decisions need to be made by the strength and condi-
tioning practitioner as to which variables and directions are specic to the requirements of their sport,
position or activity.
2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction always be the best representation of the functional movement


performance of players. As such the use of a single-leg counter-
A variety of functional performance assessments are often used movement jump (SLCM) in various directions can provide a highly
by strength and conditioning coaches as well as clinicians to reliable and more complete leg power prole in athletes across
identify player strengths and weaknesses. These diagnostic tests various sports (Chamari, Chaouachi, Hambli, Kaouech, Wisloff, &
may play an important role in determining a players potential for Castagna, 2008; Greenberger & Paterno, 1994; Maulder & Cronin,
1) injury; 2) appropriate programming for strength and condi- 2005; Meylan, McMaster, Cronin, Mohammad, Rogers, & deKlerk,
tioning and injury prevention; and 3) baseline data for readiness to 2009; Meylan, Nosaka, Green, & Cronin, 2010; Newton et al.,
return to play following an injury. The vertical jump is one such 2006; Paterno & Greenberger, 1996).
functional performance assessment and is often used as a measure The utilization of single-limb assessments is intuitively
of leg power due to the relative ease of testing set-up and admin- appealing in that most propulsion in sport is unilateral in nature.
istration (Barnes, Schilling, Falvo, Weiss, Creasy, & Fry, 2007; Cronin However, the leg power that an athlete can produce may differ
& Hansen, 2005; Hoffman, Ratamess, Klatt, Faigenbaum, & Kang, greatly between legs, as well as across directions and variables
2007; Paterno, Ford, Myer, Heyl, & Hewett, 2007; Skurvydas, based on several factors including coordination, leg dominance,
Mamkus, & Streckis, 1999; Viitasalo, Osterback, Alen, & Rahkila, previous injury and current muscle imbalances. It is thought by
1987; Young, James, & Montgomery, 2002). However, due to the strength and conditioners and clinicians that a greater imbalance
positional demands of individuals as well as the movement (asymmetry) between legs increases the potential for injury,
patterns of various sports, a vertical jump performance may not a 10e15% threshold thought problematic and requiring attention
(Hoffman et al., 2007; McElveen, Riemann, & Davies, 2010; Noyes,
Barber, & Mangine, 1991; Paterno et al., 2007). However, this
* Corresponding author. Tel.: 64 7 5762690. threshold is used rather loosely as those players identied with less
E-mail address: jkhewit@gmail.com (J.K. Hewit). than 10% magnitude asymmetry may still incur injury while those

1466-853X/$ e see front matter 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.ptsp.2011.12.003
J.K. Hewit et al. / Physical Therapy in Sport 13 (2012) 238e242 239

players with greater than 15% imbalances may not. Furthermore the three different jump directions. Jump distances were measured
whether this threshold is similar across different jump variations via tape measures xed to the oor extending in front of and to
for the outcome measures of interest has only recently been both sides of the force plate.
investigated (Meylan et al., 2009; Meylan et al., 2010).
In terms of asymmetry in players, a number of studies have 2.3. Procedures
reported average symmetry indexes (ASI) in previously injured
populations (Noyes et al., 1991; Paterno & Greenberger, 1996; Prior to testing, each subjects age, height, and body mass were
Petsching, Baron, & Albrecht, 1998; Schiltz, Lehance, Maquet, recorded. Leg dominance was determined by which leg the subject
Bury, Crierlaard, & Croisier, 2009). For example, Schiltz et al. used to regain balance following a slight unexpected perturbation
(2009) reported mean asymmetries for their subjects (15 profes- from the front (i.e. the player was pushed slightly off balance from
sional basketball players) with previous knee injuries (n 5) of the front and the leg used to regain balance was identied as the
18.4% for a single-leg drop jump, and 20.5% for a 10-s maximum dominant leg). Participants then completed a 10-min standardized
jump frequency single-leg vertical jump test, while those partici- warm-up conducted by their team strength and conditioning coach
pants without previous knee injuries presented asymmetries of which included dynamic drills (e.g. lunges, side squats, etc.), sprints
8.9% and 5.5%, respectively. These studies however, were not (5e10 m) and total body stretching. Following the warm-up,
prospective and so therefore the magnitude of asymmetry prior to participants were informed of the testing procedures and allowed
injury were unknown. That is, for the purposes of this study, the practice trials for each task prior to data collection. Testing began
asymmetry expected in non-injured populations is of particular when the subject reported that they felt comfortable with the task,
interest. no more than 3 practice trials were taken by a player. Testing was
The testing protocols used by Schiltz et al. (2009) and others completed when three successful trials per leg of each of the single-
(McElveen et al., 2010; Nimphius, McGuigan, & Newton, 2010; Noyes leg countermovement (SLCM) jumps (18 jumps total) were
et al., 1991; Petsching et al., 1998) have not assessed force or power executed.
capability in athletes in multiple directions. It is quite likely that
force and power capability and subsequent asymmetry magnitudes 2.3.1. SLCM jumps
may vary between the vertical, horizontal and mediolateral direc- All trials of the SLCM task were performed on the force plate
tions. Furthermore it is quite likely that some variables (e.g. peak with each subject standing with the toes of the designated leg
power and peak force) may be more sensitive in detecting asym- positioned just behind a starting line (marked on the force plate
metry between legs than other variables (e.g. jump distance and with tape), hands on hips and the alternate leg exed to approxi-
jump height). However, whether such contentions are true need mately 90 at the hip and knee. When ready, the subject sunk down
further investigation. Normative data must also be generated to then rapidly extended the weight-bearing leg, jumping as far as
determine what acceptable levels of asymmetry in non-injured possible in the designated direction (up, forward or to the side),
athletes might be. Therefore, the purpose of the present study was landing on both feet simultaneously. Testing began with three
to rst quantify the magnitude of leg asymmetry in non-injured successful trials on each leg in the vertical direction (SLCM-V)
national level netball players during three different direction- (landing back on the force plate), then horizontal (SLCM-H)
based movement tasks; and secondly to determine if leg asymme- (jumping forward off of the force plate) and nally lateral direction
try varies across jumping directions in the outcome measures of (SLCM-L) (jumping off of the force plate to the opposite side as the
interest. Such information provides insight into the multi- weight-bearing limb) (see Fig. 1). A trial was considered successful
directional capability of players, as well as the degree of imbalance if the hands remained on the hips throughout and if balance was
between limbs. The data presented in this article is representative of maintained upon landing for 3 s. Jump height was calculated for the
a relatively small sample size, and therefore can be used as an SLCM-V trials based on time in the air from the force plate data. A
indication of player capabilities for talent identication purposes, as tape measure extending from the starting line to the nearest point
baseline measures should players injure themselves and provide the of the shoe closest to the force plate upon landing was used to
basis for improved individualized programme design. determine the distance jumped for the horizontal and lateral trials.
Subjects were allowed 30 s recovery between each trial. The
2. Methods between session reliability for the procedures/variables used in this
study have been established previously for jump distance and
2.1. Participants height, peak force, and peak power across the vertical, horizontal
and lateral directions: percent change in the mean 0e3.5% and
A sample of convenience (n 19 current female members of the coefcient of variation of 2.9e7.9%.
national under-21 netball training squad) was used for this study.
Players were considered to be free of injury at the time of testing
(i.e. no reported injuries to the lower body within the previous 3
months that may have been aggravated by the testing or had an
adverse effect on performance). Subject characteristics recorded
included (mean  SD): age (19.5  1.1 years), body mass
(75.1  11.8 kg), height (177.6  5.1 cm), and leg dominance (12
right leg, 7 left leg). The human research ethics committee of AUT
University approved all procedures before commencing the study.
Prior to participation, an informed written consent was obtained
from each participant.

2.2. Equipment

A Bertec force plate (Bertec Corporation, AM6500, Columbus,


OH, USA) sampling at 1000 Hz was used to collect information from Fig. 1. Diagram of the SLCM-H and SLCM-L jump tasks as viewed from above.
240 J.K. Hewit et al. / Physical Therapy in Sport 13 (2012) 238e242

2.4. Data analyses Table 2


Coefcient of determination (r2) for the raw data for each task.

Upon landing, jump distance was measured to the nearest SLCM jump direction
0.01 m as the distance from the toe-mark on the force plate to the Vertical vs. Vertical vs. Horizontal vs.
heel of the foot closest to the force plate for the horizontal trials and horizontal lateral lateral
the side of the foot closest to the force plate for the lateral trials. Height/Distance 0.12 0.13 0.46
Jump height for the vertical jump test was calculated from the force Force 0.39 0.36 0.45
plate data according to the procedures outlined by Meylan et al. Power 0.53 0.79 0.67
(2010) using the following formula: SLCM Single-leg countermovement.

Jump Height takeoff velocity2 =2*gravity


The individual ASIs ranged from 0.0 to 48.6% and the mean
Peak concentric vertical, horizontal and lateral forces and squad ASI for each jump and variable can be observed in Table 3.
powers were also calculated as described by Meylan et al. When all the variables were grouped into three directions, mean
(2010).The acceleration produced by the participant was calcu- direction ASIs ranged from 6.7% to 8.4% and were not signicantly
lated by subtracting acceleration due to gravity from the accelera- different to each other. However, in terms of the individual direc-
tion of the center mass (vertical ground reaction force divided by tional ASI comparisons vertical and lateral force ASI magnitudes
body mass). Take-off velocity was calculated from numerically were found to be signicantly different from each other (34%
integrated acceleration-time data and multiplied by the original difference, p 0.02).
force values to determine the peak concentric powers. An average Another comparison of interest was whether the ASIs differed
symmetry index (ASI) between legs was calculated for each of the in terms of the variable used. When the data was grouped into
three jumping directions using the following formula: variables (e.g. power in all three directions) the mean variable ASIs
ranged from 6.2% to 10.2% (see Table 3). Average ASI peak power
ASI 1  dominant leg=non  dominant leg*100
was found to be signicantly different (w40%, p < 0.001) to force
and jump distance and jump height. The individual comparisons
2.5. Statistical analyses between variables found signicant differences for: power and
jump distance and jump height in the horizontal (60%, p < 0.001)
The means and standard deviations (SD) for all three trials for and lateral directions (38% difference, p 0.05); and, vertical power
the dominant (D) and non-dominant (ND) leg per task were aver- and vertical force (66%, p 0.02).
aged to represent an individuals performance for each task (mean The coefcient of determination (r2) for the ASI squad means are
and SD). ASI magnitude was calculated for each individual for the shown in Table 4. Low values (ranging from 0.00 to 0.13) were
following dependent variables: peak power, peak force, and jump observed across all variables. To illustrate the relative indepen-
distance and jump height. Coefcients of determination (r2) were dence of the ASIs and raw data, an excerpt of the distance raw data
used to quantify the shared variance between dependent variables. and ASI squad rankings are shown in Table 5. The top four players
Paired T-tests were used to determine if signicant differences ranked in the vertical direction didnt necessarily rank in the top
were present between legs for each task while repeated measures four for the horizontal or lateral directions in ASI magnitudes or
ANOVA with Holm-Sidak contrasts were used to determine if there raw data.
were signicant differences between the dependent variables of
interest. Statistical signicance was set at p  0.05.
4. Discussion
3. Results
To the knowledge of the authors, the present study was the rst
Squad means and SDs for each task are summarized in Table 1. to assess the leg power of non-injured female athletes across
No signicant differences (p  0.05) were observed between multiple directions and multiple variables. As the force data pre-
dominant and non-dominant legs. As can be observed, signicantly sented in the current study were similar to that reported by
greater peak forces (71e72%, p < 0.001) and peak powers (39e49%, Newton et al. (Newton et al., 2006) (1167e1174 N) (in which
p < 0.001) were associated with the vertical direction when a sample of female softball players were tested completing SLCM
compared with the horizontal and lateral directions. The horizontal jumps in the vertical direction), the present data appears indicative
and lateral directions presented relatively similar measures for all of trained female athletes. With the exception of vertical and lateral
three variables (jump distance: 1.50e1.53 m, peak force: raw power, low to moderate shared variances (r2 0.12e0.67) were
431.8e451.1 N, and peak power: 1279.3e1445.1 W, respectively). observed in the outcome measures of interest (see Table 2), indi-
Low to moderate shared variance was observed for the variables of cating that these tests are measuring relatively independent qual-
force and distance in the three directions (r2 0.12e0.46), while ities of each other. This nding is not novel and has been reported
moderate to high shared variance was observed for power elsewhere (Maulder & Cronin, 2005; Meylan et al., 2010). The
(r2 0.53e0.79) (see Table 2). implications of these ndings are that multi-directional leg

Table 1
Squad means  SD and p-values for each variable and task (n 22).

Task Peak power (W) p Peak force (N) p Distance (m) p

D ND D ND D ND
SLCM-V 2102.9  795.0 2178.7  714.0 0.47 1549.4  334.6 1526.3  344.8 0.18 0.19  0.07 0.18  0.08 0.12
SLCM-H 1445.1  521.4 1378.3  545.1 0.09 446.5  76.2 433.3  79.4 0.08 1.50  0.17 1.53  0.19 0.12
SLCM-L 1279.3  427.1 1279.8  461.1 0.47 451.1  73.4 431.8  63.0 0.06 1.50  0.11 1.50  0.14 0.49

D dominant leg, ND non-dominant leg, SLCM-V single-leg countermovement jump (vertical), SLCM-H single-leg countermovement jump (horizontal), SLCM-
L single-leg countermovement jump (lateral).
J.K. Hewit et al. / Physical Therapy in Sport 13 (2012) 238e242 241

Table 3
Mean asymmetry index  SD and ranges (absolute values) for each variable and movement task.

Task Peak power Peak force Jump Height/Distance Mean direction ASI  SDb
1,5 1,4
SLCM-V (%) 9.2  11.4 (0.1e48.6) 3.0  2.8 (0.0e9.8) 7.8  6.8 (0.0e23.6) 6.7  4.3
SLCM-H (%) 11.4  9.22,3,7 (0.7e35.1) 8.0  5.72 (1.0e21.4) 4.6  3.27 (0.0e10.8) 8.0  3.4
SLCM-L (%) 10.0  7.53,4,8 (1.7e28.6) 8.9  7.93,4 (0.1e35.2) 6.2  5.78 (0.3e25.6) 8.4  1.2
Mean Variable ASI  SDa 10.2  1.15,6 6.6  3.15 6.2  1.66

D dominant leg, ND non-dominant leg, SLCM-V single-leg countermovement jump (vertical), SLCM-H single-leg countermovement jump (horizontal), SLCM-
L single-leg countermovement jump (lateral).
Signicant differences: 1peak force and power in the vertical direction, 2peak force and power in the horizontal direction, 3peak force and power in the lateral direction,
4
vertical peak force and lateral peak force, 5average peak power and average peak force, 6average peak power and average jump height/distance, 7horizontal peak power and
horizontal jump distance, 8lateral peak power and lateral jump distance.
a
ASIs averaged across the sample for each variable (peak power, peak force, and jump height/distance).
b
ASIs averaged across the sample for each direction (vertical, horizontal and lateral).

strength/power needs to be assessed and developed indepen- differences are magnied when data is analyzed at an individual
dently. That is, assessing or developing strength/power in one level (see Table 5).
direction may not transfer to other directions. With regards to the variable analysis, the magnitude of asym-
In non-injured populations, many researchers have suggested metry was dependent upon whether power, force or distance
that leg asymmetry magnitudes of 10e15% are typical and measures were used for the ASI. When all three directions were
acceptable (Hoffman et al., 2007; McElveen et al., 2010; Noyes et al., averaged (power 10.2%, force 6.6% and distance 6.2%),
1991; Paterno et al., 2007). In terms of the grouped data, all of the signicant differences in ASI were detected (see Table 3). The
mean squad ASI magnitudes in the present study fell within the ndings of this study are also consistent with Meylan et al. (Meylan
suggested 15% threshold. However, the ASI power values were at or et al., 2010) where the largest ASI magnitudes were associated with
above the lower limit of 10% (see Table 3). As the sample of players power output (9.3%). While the sensitivity of each variable was not
that participated in this study were non-injured at the time of assessed in this study, power output may be a more sensitive
testing, a 10% threshold for non-injured players appears to be quite measure of ASI given that it is the product of both force and
low dependent on the variable used to describe the ASI. As a result, velocity. Interestingly, the vertical power ASI was signicantly
15% may be a better choice of a threshold prior to making decisions different from vertical force. Signicant differences between these
around interventions to address leg imbalances. two variables in the same direction may be useful in terms of jump
It should be noted that for some of the variables and directions diagnostics. That is, given power is the product of force and velocity,
in the present study, individual asymmetries as high as 48.6% were if there is no statistical difference in force it would seem that the
observed in a non-injured population. While the majority of ASIs differences may be attributed to the velocity component. If this is
fell below the 15% threshold, those that were a great deal larger the case then training may take a velocity focus to remedy the ASI.
than 15% are considered to be at a greater risk of injury due to the Unfortunately, access to equipment to measure power, velocity and
larger muscle imbalances between legs (Hoffman et al., 2007; force output (e.g. force plate) in many cases is problematic there-
McElveen et al., 2010; Noyes et al., 1991; Paterno et al., 2007). As fore alternative variables such as jump distance or height will need
this sample of players reported no injuries at the time of testing, the to sufce.
ASIs above 15% should be considered atypical and decisions made The greatest individual power ASI magnitudes for the present
as to whether interventions need to be implemented that address study were observed in the horizontal direction (11.4%) followed
the imbalance. closely by the lateral and vertical directions (10.0% and 9.2%,
In terms of directional-specic asymmetry, the magnitude of respectively). Meylan et al. (Meylan et al., 2010) reported that the
asymmetry was found to be dependent upon whether the applied greatest ASI was associated with the lateral direction (9.3%). It
ground reaction force was primarily vertical, horizontal or lateral in would seem that an ASI magnitude of w10% in multi-directional
nature. When the average ASI magnitudes of all three variables power output is common in non-injured players.
(vertical 6.7%, horizontal 8.0% and lateral 8.4%) were Another focus of this study was to determine if players leg
grouped, no signicant differences were detected. However, the power asymmetry was similar across the three SLCM directions.
vertical force ASI (3.0%) was found to be signicantly lower than the The low shared variance of ASI magnitudes (r2 0.00e0.13) for all
lateral force ASI (8.9%) when compared across directions. Inter- three directions indicates that these ASIs are measuring relatively
estingly, power and distance ASI magnitudes also differed signi- independent qualities (see Table 4). That is, asymmetry in one
cantly in the horizontal and lateral directions, indicating that for direction does not necessarily predict asymmetry in another.
the same jump, the ASI percent difference can differ markedly Therefore, using a single direction assessment (e.g. vertical jump)
dependent on the variable used to quantify the imbalance. The to assess leg power asymmetries in players that perform explosive
reader needs to be cognizant of this nding and that these

Table 4 Table 5
Coefcient of determination (r2) for squad mean ASIs for each task. Excerpt of four players SLCM jump distance (dominant leg) and ASI squad rankings.

SLCM jump direction Player Jump direction ASI

Vertical vs. Vertical vs. Horizontal vs. Vertical Horizontal Lateral Vertical Horizontal Lateral
horizontal lateral lateral A 1 20 5 15 17 14
Height/Distance 0.00 0.02 0.13 B 2 16 14 3 8 18
Force 0.08 0.07 0.00 C 3 12 15 10 13 15
Power 0.02 0.02 0.13 D 4 15 6 13 7 6

SLCM Single-leg countermovement. SLCM single-leg countermovement, ASI average symmetry index.
242 J.K. Hewit et al. / Physical Therapy in Sport 13 (2012) 238e242

movements across multiple directions in competition does not Acknowledgments


provide a complete prole of the asymmetries for each player.
The standard deviations and the ranges presented in Table 3 We would like to thank the New Zealand national under 21
indicate that there is variability in the asymmetry data. Of impor- training squad and coaches for participating in this study.
tance to programming is the principle of individualization,
a guiding principle that is often lost in research investigating the
mean response. ASI directional variability can be seen in the excerpt References
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Ethical statement
Schiltz, M., Lehance, C., Maquet, D., Bury, T., Crierlaard, J., & Croisier, J. (2009).
The AUT University Ethics Committee approved this study. All Explosive strength imbalances in professional basketball players. Journal of
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study and gave written informed consent prior to participation.
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Funding Viitasalo, J., Osterback, L., Alen, M., & Rahkila, P. (1987). Mechanical jumping power
This study was supported by Netball New Zealand and AUT in young athletes. Acta Physiol Scand, 131, 139e145.
Young, W., James, R., & Montgomery, I. (2002). Is muscle power related to running
Universitys Sports Performance Research Institute of New Zealand speed with changes of direction? Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness,
who co-funded the academic scholarship of the primary researcher. 42, 282e288.