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Hip abduction weakness in elite junior footballers is common but easy to correct quickly: a prospective sports team cohort based study

Hamish R Osborne1*, John F Quinlan1 and Garry T Allison2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medicine, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, Great King St, Dunedin, New Zealand

2 School of Physiotherapy, Curtin University, Kent St, Bentley, Western Australia, Australia

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Sports Medicine, Arthroscopy, Rehabilitation, Therapy & Technology 2012, 4:37  doi:10.1186/1758-2555-4-37

Published: 2 October 2012



Hip abduction weakness has never been documented on a population basis as a common finding in a healthy group of athletes and would not normally be found in an elite adolescent athlete. This study aimed to show that hip abduction weakness not only occurs in this group but also is common and easy to correct with an unsupervised home based program.


A prospective sports team cohort based study was performed with thirty elite adolescent under-17 Australian Rules Footballers in the Australian Institute of Sport/Australian Football League Under-17 training academy. The players had their hip abduction performance assessed and were then instructed in a hip abduction muscle training exercise. This was performed on a daily basis for two months and then they were reassessed.


The results showed 14 of 28 athletes who completed the protocol had marked weakness or a side-to-side difference of more than 25% at baseline.

Two months later ten players recorded an improvement of ≥ 80% in their recorded scores. The mean muscle performance on the right side improved from 151 Newton (N) to 202 N (p<0.001) while on the left, the recorded results improved from 158 N to 223 N (p<0.001).


The baseline values show widespread profound deficiencies in hip abduction performance not previously reported. Very large performance increases can be achieved, unsupervised, in a short period of time to potentially allow large clinically significant gains. This assessment should be an integral part of preparticipation screening and assessed in those with lower limb injuries. This particular exercise should be used clinically and more research is needed to determine its injury prevention and performance enhancement implications.