Lower extremity muscle activation and alignment during the soccer instep and side-foot kicks

Robert H. Brophy, Sherry I. Backus, Brian S. Pansy, Stephen Lyman, Riley J. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Citations (Scopus)


STUDY DESIGN: Controlled laboratory study. OBJECTIVES: To quantify phase duration and lower extremity muscle activation and alignment during the most common types of soccer kick-the instep kick and side-foot kick. A second purpose was to test the hypotheses that different patterns of lower extremity muscle activation occur between the 2 types of kicks and between the kicking limb compared to the support limb. BACKGROUND: Soccer players are at risk for lower extremity injury, especially at the knee. Kicking the soccer ball is an essential, common, and distinctive part of a soccer player's activity that plays a role in soccer player injury. Regaining the ability to kick is also essential for soccer athletes to return to play after injury. METHODS: Thirteen male soccer players underwent video motion analysis and electromyography (EMG) of 7 muscles in both the kicking and supporting lower extremity (iliacus, gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, hamstrings, gastrocnemius) and 2 additional muscles in the kicking limb only (hip adductors, tibialis anterior). Five instep and 5 side-foot kicks were recorded for each player. Analysis-of-variance models were used to compare EMG activity between type of kicks and between the kicking and nonkicking lower extremity. RESULTS: Five phases of kicking were identified: (1) preparation, (2) backswing, (3) limb cocking, (4) acceleration, and (5) follow-through. Comparing the kicking limb between the 2 types of kick, significant interaction effects were identified for the hamstrings (P = .02) and the tibialis anterior (P<.01). Greater activation of the kicking limb iliacus (P<.01), gastrocnemius (P<.01), vastus medialis (P = .016), and hip adductors (P<.01) occurred during the instep kick. Significant differences were seen between the kicking limb and the support limb for all muscles during both types of kick. CONCLUSIONS: Certain lower extremity muscle groups face different demands during the soccer instep kick compared to the soccer side-foot kick. Similarly, the support limb muscles face different demands than the kicking limb during both kicks. Better definition of lower extremity function during kicking provides a basis for improved insight into soccer player performance, injury prevention, and rehabilitation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)260-268
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2007
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


Dive into the research topics of 'Lower extremity muscle activation and alignment during the soccer instep and side-foot kicks'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this