Side-to-Side Differences in the Lower Leg MuscleBone Unit in Male Soccer Players

ANLIKER, ELMAR1; SONDEREGGER, ANDREAS1; TOIGO, MARCO1,2

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise:
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31828cb712
Applied Sciences
Abstract

Purpose: To characterize side-to-side differences in the lower leg muscle–bone unit between the nondominant leg (NL) and the dominant leg (DL) using maximum voluntary forefoot ground reaction force (Fm1LH) during multiple one-legged hopping (m1LH) and tibial bone mass and geometry measured by peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT).

Methods: Sixty-six male high-level soccer players (age range = 12–18 yr) performed m1LH to determine Fm1LH acting on the forefoot during landing for the NL and DL separately. pQCT scans were obtained to assess bone structural variables at 4%, 14%, 38%, and 66% tibia length and calf muscle cross-sectional area at the 66% site.

Results: First, participants displayed significant (P < 0.05) side-to-side differences in bone mass and geometry at 4%, 14%, and 38% (but not at the 66% site) of tibia length, with higher values in NL relative to DL (+0.7% to +5.6%), most evident at the 14% site. Second, no asymmetries were found for Fm1LH between the two legs (P = 0.442). Third, the relationship between Fm1LH and vBMC14% was strong for both NL and DL (R2 = 0.48 and R2 = 0.54, respectively), but side-to-side differences in Fm1LHFm1LH) and side-to-side differences in vBMC14% (ΔvBMC14%) were not related (R2 = 0.04).

Conclusions: Contrary to expectations from the mechanostat theory, ΔFm1LH and ΔvBMC14% did not differ in proportion to each other. It seems that playing soccer is a well-balanced activity with respect to Fm1LH. However, the NL contributes to the supporting of the action of the DL, meaning that the loading experienced by the tibia might be more pronounced for the NL relative to the DL, leading to the observed higher bone strength values for the NL.

Author Information

1Exercise Physiology, Institute of Human Movement Sciences, ETH Zurich, SWITZERLAND; and 2Institute of Physiology and Zurich Center for Integrative Human Physiology, University of Zurich, SWITZERLAND

Address for correspondence: Marco Toigo, Ph.D., Exercise Physiology, ETH Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland; E-mail: marco.toigo@hest.ethz.ch.

Submitted for publication September 2012.

Accepted for publication February 2013.

© 2013 American College of Sports Medicine