Lower Body Symmetry and Running Performance in Elite Jamaican Track and Field Athletes
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 800m, and knee and ankle asymmetry was lower for those running the 100m 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 100m 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.
Trivers, R., Fink, B., Russell, M., McCarty, K., James, B., Palestis, B.P. (2014). Lower Body Symmetry and Running Performance in Elite Jamaican Track and Field Athletes. PLoS ONE 9(11), e113106.
Link: PLOS ONE
Link: Scientific American