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Context: Measures of side-to-side asymmetry in body composition may help identify players who are predisposed to lower limb injuries (LLI) or lower back pain (LBP). This study aimed to examine (1) side-to-side asymmetry in college rugby players according to sex and position and (2) whether side-to-side asymmetry is associated with LBP or LLI. Design: Cross-sectional study. Methods: Thirty-six rugby players (61% female) underwent a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry assessment for total and regional (appendicular, truncal) outcomes of fat mass, lean mass, and bone mass. A subsample (n = 23) of players had a second dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry assessment 2 months postbaseline. Two-way analysis of variance was used to assess the effect of position (forward and backs) and sex on body composition asymmetry. Student paired t tests were used to assess side-to-side difference in body composition and compare baseline and follow-up measures. Logistic regression was used to assess possible associations between LLI, LBP, and the degree of side-to-side asymmetry in body composition. Results: Male players had greater asymmetry in arm bone mass compared with female players (P = .026), and trunk fat mass asymmetry was greater in forwards as compared with backs (P = .017). Forwards had significantly greater fat mass (P = .004) and percentage of fat (P = .048) on the right leg compared with the left. Backs had significantly greater bone mass in the right arm compared with the left (P = .015). From baseline to postseason, forwards had a significant increase in side-to-side asymmetry in arm lean mass (P = .006) and a significant decrease in side-to-side asymmetry in leg fat mass (P = .032). In backs, side-to-side asymmetry at baseline compared with postseason was significantly different (P = .011) for trunk fat mass. There were no significant associations between body composition asymmetry, LLI, or LBP by sex or position. Conclusion: Our results revealed the presence of side-to-side asymmetries in body composition in university rugby players between sex and position. The amount of asymmetry, however, was not associated with LBP and LLI.
Fortin (email@example.com) is corresponding author, https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1189-3591
Male players had greater side-to-side asymmetry in arm bone mass compared to females, and trunk fat mass asymmetry was greater in forwards as compared to backs.
Forwards had a greater percentage of fat and fat mass in the right leg as compared to the left, and backs had greater bone mass in the right arm compared to the left.
No significant associations were observed between body composition asymmetry outcomes at baseline and participants who reported lower limb injuries or lower back pain.