• Users Online: 268
  • Home
  • Print this page
  • Email this page
Home About us Editorial board Ahead of print Current issue Search Archives Submit article Instructions Subscribe Contacts Login 

 Table of Contents  
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 19  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 67-72

Physical functional performance capacity and its relationship with handedness among a sample of University Undergraduates in Benin-City, Nigeria

1 Department of Physiotherapy, College of Medical Sciences, University of Benin, Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria
2 Department of Physiotherapy, Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospitals Complex, Wesley Guild Hospital, Ilesa, Osun State, Nigeria

Date of Submission20-Apr-2020
Date of Decision16-May-2020
Date of Acceptance26-Jun-2020
Date of Web Publication30-May-2022

Correspondence Address:
Dr. K I Oke
Department of Physiotherapy, College of Medical Sciences, University of Benin, Benin City
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/njhs.njhs_7_20

Rights and Permissions

Background/Objective: The relationship between handedness and physical functional performance (PFP) remains a subject of debate. While some researchers have claimed that right-handed persons are more skilful with their right hands when performing hand tasks, others have opined that left-handers perform better. This study assessed the relationship between handedness and PFP among the university undergraduate students.
Materials and Methods: It was a cross-sectional study which employed purposive sampling technique to recruit 29 (age ranging between 14 and 24 years) university undergraduate students. Participants' sociodemographic, anthropometric characteristics and physiological parameters were measured using the standard procedures. The Edinburgh Handedness Inventory was used to categorise the handedness of participants. PFP of the participants was determined using the handgrip strength. Data obtained were analysed with descriptive and inferential statistics with the SPSS software version 21, with a level of statistical significance determined at P < 0.05.
Results: The mean right handgrip (34.15 ± 8.25 kg vs. 30.5 ± 9.83 kg, P = 0.431) and left handgrip (30.74 ± 11.32 kg vs. 35.17 ± 9.33 kg, P = 0.348) strengths for right-handed (n = 23) and left-handed (n = 6) participants, respectively, were not significant. The handgrip strength between the preferred (35.41 ± 9.53 kg) and nonpreferred hands (29.62 ± 9.25 kg) of participants differed significantly (P = 0.02). Right-handed participants were significantly stronger with their preferred hand (35.48 ± 9.79 kg vs. 29.39 ± 9.31 kg, P = 0.01) and left-handed participants were significantly stronger with their preferred hand (35.17 ± 9.33 kg vs. 30.5 ± 9.83 kg, P = 0.001). Finally, there was no significant correlation (P > 0.05) between participants' handedness and handgrip strength and other physiological parameters.
Conclusion: It is, therefore, concluded that PFP differs according to handedness but did not correlate with physiologic parameters in adolescents.

Keywords: Handedness, physical performance, undergraduates

How to cite this article:
Oke K I, Ogundiran O O, Idowu O A. Physical functional performance capacity and its relationship with handedness among a sample of University Undergraduates in Benin-City, Nigeria. Niger J Health Sci 2019;19:67-72

How to cite this URL:
Oke K I, Ogundiran O O, Idowu O A. Physical functional performance capacity and its relationship with handedness among a sample of University Undergraduates in Benin-City, Nigeria. Niger J Health Sci [serial online] 2019 [cited 2022 Jul 4];19:67-72. Available from: http://www.https://chs-journal.com//text.asp?2019/19/2/67/346274

  Introduction Top

The hand represents an excellent model of complex motor control that contributes to 90% of upper limb function.[1] This complex structure is used both to grasp objects of all shapes and sizes through coupled action of all digits as well as to perform skilled, individuated finger movements, such as handwriting and painting.[2] The hand is necessary for diverse human activities and independent living.[3] The hand serves as a tool, symbol, weapon and an organ of performance utilised for salutation, supplication and condemnation.[4],[5] The concept of handedness or preference is a natural phenomenon which subconsciously makes an individual perform fine and gross motor tasks with a preferred hand, known as dominant hand.[6] About 90% of the general populace exhibit greater dexterity with their right hand, while left-handed, mixed-handed and ambidextrous individuals share the remaining 10%.[7] Factors, ranging from brain lateralisation, genetics, prenatal hormonal exposure and prenatal vestibular asymmetry, have all been used to explain hand dominance to a great extent.[8],[9],[10] Several types of neuropathies, musculoskeletal injuries and other pathologies affect the activities of daily living involving the hand negatively; therefore, hand function assessment is germane to both clinical research and the management of patients with impaired dexterity.[11] Outcome measures such as handgrip strength, nine-hole pegboard, box and block and strength-dexterity tests have been utilised to evaluate hand dominance, with the ultimate goal of measuring the treatment efficacy among concerned clients.[3],[12]

The handgrip strength test is an inexpensive and straightforward muscular fitness test that provides information about overall muscular strength.[13] Besides, the handgrip strength is a general indicator of one's health status and an outcome measure for different diseases.[14] The consequences of muscular weakness, as determined by low handgrip strength, including increased the risk of cardiometabolic such as obesity, low-grade systemic inflammation and mortality are well-known.[13],[15] For instance, concomitant muscular weakness and poorer cardiometabolic health in children and adolescents predict higher cardiovascular risk in the adulthood[16] and mortality from cardiovascular disease in adulthood.[17] Thus, the importance of using the handgrip strength as an index of physical functional performance (PFP) in the research and clinical practice cannot be overemphasised. The handgrip strength test has been validated among adolescents and young adults.[18],[19] Being active is one of the requirements necessary to maintain optimum health. Furthermore, regular participation in physical activity and/or exercises is essential for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, improvement of one's psychosocial health and functional performance. An individual's functional performance is the ability to engage in activities, including sports, occupation or recreation at desired level or to return to these endeavors in a safe and timely manner without the functional limitations.[20] Most of these activities often require the use of one's hands; hence, left-handed, right-handed and ambidextrous individuals can participate in these activities. For instance, specific sports such as tennis seem to have a higher percentage of left-handed athletes due to some sort of perceived advantage they seem to have over their right-handed counterparts.[21] Few sporting activities, such as polo must simply be played with the right hand, no matter one's hand of dominance.[22] More often than not, these activities require strong concentric contractions of the flexor muscles of the forearms and hands, often increasing the tendency to develop hypertrophy in the involved muscles.[23]

There are conflicting results from prior studies which sought to compare the motor task performance levels between right-handed and left-handed individuals. A study conducted by Hoffman[16] showed equivalent motor task performance levels among computer users when using their preferred hands, although left-handed computer users performed significantly better than their right-handed counterparts when using their nonpreferred hand. Another study which measured adult hand performance with the grooved pegboard observed that right handers completed the task significantly faster with the right hand; however, performance differences between the hands are almost negligible but still significant.[25] At present, little is known about the relationship between handedness and physical functional performance, especially among adolescents and young adults. This study aimed to determine if there are differences in handgrip strength of preferred and nonpreferred hand and between grip strength of the preferred and nonpreferred hand according to handedness in the study population. Further, this study aimed at determining whether any relationship exists between handedness and physiologic parameters of university undergraduates using the handgrip strength.

  Materials and Methods Top

A cross-sectional design was used, with a study population consisting of purposively selected 29 undergraduates of a Nigerian university. The participants who were 18 years and older duly completed the informed consent form after the researchers explained the study procedure to them. Participants who were not up to 18 years of age provided assent after their parents provided informed consent. Ethical approval for the study was sought and obtained from the Research and Ethics Committees of the University of Benin, Benin-City, Nigeria. The Edinburgh Handedness Inventory[26] was used to categorise the participants into right-handedness (with the right hand being the preferred hand and the left hand the nonpreferred hand), left-handedness (with the left hand preferred hand and right hand being the nonpreferred hand), and mixed-handedness groups. Individuals who were mixed handed were asked to draw an object; they were grouped according to the hand they used to draw the object.[27] Physiological parameters of each participant such as resting systolic and diastolic blood pressures, as well as pulse rates, were measured with electronic sphygmomanometer (Omron Intelli-Sense M6 Comfort, Japan).

Furthermore, body composition parameters of body mass index, percentage body fat, and lean mass and visceral fat were measured with OMRON body fat monitor (BF 302, Omron Co. Ltd., Japan). Physical functional performance capacity of the participants was subsequently assessed with the use of the handgrip strength. The participants' handgrip strength was measured using the Jamar hydraulic hand dynamometer (Lafayette, IN, USA). The device auto-captures the maximum achieved grip strength and displays it in kilograms. The handgrip strength was performed with the participant-seated lying shoulder adducted and neutrally rotated, elbow flexed at 90°, wrist held between 0° and 30° of extension, and ulnar between 0° and 15°.[28] The handlebar of the dynamometer was set to the second position while the supporting arm was constrained.

Participants were asked to squeeze the handle as hard as they could and then release their grip. Participants attempted test twice for each hand with a 10-s interval between measurements, and the sequence of the starting hand was varied between the participants. The mean value of the attempts was considered as the handgrip strength measure for each hand.

Data analysis

IBM-SPSS software (Version 21, IBM Corp, Armonk, NY) was used for the statistical analysis of data collected. Demographic and physiological characteristics of participants were analysed using mean, standard deviation, and percentages. The unpaired t-test was used to compare the grip strength between the preferred and the nonpreferred hand of all participants. Further, unpaired t-test was used to compare the grip strength between the preferred hand of the left-handed participants and the preferred hand of the right-handed participants; similarly, this was done for the nonpreferred hand. The Paired t-test was used to compare difference between handgrip strength of the preferred and nonpreferred hand, according to handedness. Finally, the correlation between handedness and handgrip strength and other variables were determined using the inferential statistics such as Spearman's moment correlation coefficient. The level of statistical significance was set at P < 0.05.

  Results Top

A total of 29 undergraduate students (62.1% females and 37.9% males) were recruited for this study. Twenty-eight (96.6%) of the participants were 100 level students, whereas only 1 (3.4%) student was at 400 level. The Edinburgh Handedness Inventory classified 21 (72.4%) of the participants to be right-handed, and 4 each to be left-handed (13.8%) and mixed-handed (13.8%), respectively. The mean age, body mass index, and percentage body fat (PBF) of the participants were 18.2 years ± 1.8 (range from 14 to 24 years), 21.4 kg/m2 ± 2.8 (range from 17.1 to 27.5 kg/m2), and 25.3% ± 11.2% (range from 6.5% to 45.9%), respectively. The mean hand grip strength for the right and left hands was 33.40 ± 8.5and 31.7 ± 10.9 kg (6–66 kg), respectively. The descriptive statistical analyses of the participants' demographics and physiological characteristics are presented in [Table 1].
Table 1: Demographic and physiological characteristics of participants

Click here to view

Furthermore, the grip strength of the preferred hand (35.41 ± 9.53 kg) was significantly stronger (P = 0.02) than that of the nonpreferred hand (29.62 ± 9.25 kg) for the study population as a whole (t = 2.349, P = 0.02). The grip strength between the preferred hands of the left-handed and right-handed participants (t = 0.072, P = 0.945) and the grip-strength between the nonpreferred hands of the left-handed and right-handed participants (t = −0.249, P = 0.81) were not significant. The result of this study also showed that right-handed participants were significantly stronger with their preferred hand (t = 5.777, P = 0.001) and left-handed participants were significantly stronger with their preferred hand (t = 4.076, P = 0.010). The results of the comparisons between the grip strength of the preferred and nonpreferred hand in left-handed and right-handed participants and comparison between grip strength of the preferred and nonpreferred hand according to hand preference are presented in [Table 2].
Table 2: Results of comparisons between A- the grip strength of the preferred and nonpreferred hand in left-handed and right-handed participants and B- comparison between grip strength of the preferred and nonpreferred hand according to hand preference

Click here to view

Finally, there was no significant correlation between participants' handedness and handgrip strength or physiological characteristics. Correlation matrix table of handgrip strength and all the physiological characteristics of participants is presented in [Table 3]. We highlight the correlation between handedness and other characteristics.
Table 3: Correlation among handedness, handgrip strength and other physiological variables

Click here to view

  Discussion Top

The current study sought to determine if hand dominance had a relationship with PFP capacity and whether differences existed in handgrip strength when hand preference and handedness were considered in a sample of university undergraduate students. The result of this study will extend the literature as regards handedness and PFP, such as handgrip strength among the general population.

The handgrip strength of the preferred hand was significantly stronger than that of the nonpreferred hand in this study. This result is in keeping with the 10% rule, which states that on the average, the preferred hand is typically 5%–10% times stronger than the nonpreferred hand.[29] Previous studies have also shown the preferred hand to be stronger than the nonpreferred hand.[27],[30],[31] Our result also showed that the grip strength between the preferred hands of the left-handed and right-handed participants was comparable. This trend was also found for the nonpreferred hands grip strength. Another study also had a similar finding for the handgrip strength of the nonpreferred hand.[27] However, they did not find such difference in the hand grip strength of the preferred hands between the left-handed and right-handed participants. The reason for this contrasting finding is unknown. Further studies are warranted to confirm this finding on the preferred hand among left-handed adolescents. However, for a quick assessment of a patient's general health status, with respect to handgrip strength, our result suggests that the handgrip strength of the nonpreferred hand could be compared to a nonpreferred hand handgrip strength normative data in situations where the preferred hand is inaccessible (for instance amputations, diseased process grossly affecting the preferred hand).

When right-handed and left-handed participants were independently examined, the preferred hand of participants was significantly stronger than their nonpreferred hand. A previous study by Hepping et al.[27] found out that the preferred hand was significantly stronger than the non-preferred hand for right-handed adolescents. However, they did not find a significant difference in handgrip strength for left-handed adolescents. A major difference between our study and theirs is the age range of adolescents included in the studies. While the ages of adolescents in the previous study ranged from 4 to 17 years, the age of the adolescents in the present study ranged from 14 to 24 years. The weak or no significant difference in favor of the left-preferred hand has been reported in previous studies[27],[32] and social pressure to become right-handed, being forced to become ambidextrous because most objects used in daily living are typically designed for right-handed individuals were implicated as possible mechanisms. Since the participants in this study were university undergraduates, they may have developed coping strategies to handle these these problems. For instance, while writing in the class or engaging in group activities, left-handed individuals may appropriately position themselves on the extreme left to be comfortable while using the objects commonly used in the daily activities.

The current study also revealed that there is no significant correlation between handedness, handgrip strength, and physiological parameters of body compositions parameters such as body mass index, PBF, visceral fat, and lean mass. These findings are in tandem with a study of Pande et al. that reported no significant relationship between body mass index and handgrip strength (measured from both dominant and nondominant hands) among young, healthy individuals.[33] In contrast, a previous study reported the association between handgrip strength (as a measure of dominance) and anthropometric variables related to the upper extremities.[34] Other studies reported the associations between handedness, handgrip strength, body mass index, and hand span.[35],[36] Differences in the findings may not be unconnected to the fact that the present study used physiological parameters which were global and not related only to the upper extremity. Since handgrip strength as it relates to handedness could serve as an indication of health and well-being, it is therefore important to compare the handedness to global physiologic parameters, including waist circumference and other metabolic indices. Future studies are, however, warranted to confirm the correlations between handedness, handgrip strength, and physiological parameters in this population.

This study is not without limitations. The small participants' sample size of participants limits the generalisation of our results to the broader adolescent population. This study was a pilot experiment utilising a convenient sample of participants; hence, a larger sample size study is needed to confirm the present results. However, this study serves as a precursor to further studies on the correlation between handedness and various aspects of physical performance. Second, due to the cross-sectional design of the study, causality cannot be ascertained between the factors that correlated among themselves. We also did not consider other sociodemographic characteristics asides age, gender, and level of the undergraduate study.

  Conclusion Top

It is, therefore, concluded from this study that preferred hands were generally stronger than non-preferred hands among adolescents in this study. Further, handgrip strength of the preferred hand was significantly stronger than that of the nonpreferred hand for the right-handed and left-handed adolescents, respectively. Furthermore, functional performance capacity using the handgrip strength is not in any way predicated on physiologic parameters among university undergraduates or adolescents. It is vital to consider handedness in peculiar activities that require the use of specific hands such as sports, especially those that require the engagement of both preferred and nonpreferred hand. As such, the nonpreferred hand should not be neglected during exercise training to improve functional performance capacity. Other factors which may affect functional performance in this population, including mental cognition and fatigue dimensions warrants exploration.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Schieber MH, Santello M. Hand function: Peripheral and central constraints on performance. J Appl Physiol (1985) 2004;96:2293-300.  Back to cited text no. 1
Takla MK, Mahmoud EA, El-Latif NA. Jebsen Taylor hand function test: Gender, dominance, and age differences in healthy Egyptian population. Bull Fac Phys Ther 2018;23:85-93.  Back to cited text no. 2
  [Full text]  
Light CM, Chappell PH, Kyberd PJ. Establishing a standardized clinical assessment tool of pathologic and prosthetic hand function: Normative data, reliability, and validity. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2002;83:776-83.  Back to cited text no. 3
Kendon A. Languages as semiotically heterogenous systems. Behav Brain Sci 2017;40:e59.  Back to cited text no. 4
Eyring P. Modern Etiquette: International Greeting Customs; 2011. Available from: https://www.reuters.com/article/idINIndia-55744720110321. [Last retrieved on 2019 May 12].  Back to cited text no. 5
Morin A. Understanding a Child's Dominant Hand; 2019. Available from: https://www.verywellfamily.com/hand-dominance-what-is-a-dominant-hand-620856. [Last retrieved on 2019 Nov 10].  Back to cited text no. 6
Perelle IB, Ehrman L. On the other hand. Behav Genet 2005;35:343-50.  Back to cited text no. 7
Smith LL, Hines M. Language lateralization and handedness in women prenatally exposed to diethylstilbestrol (DES). Psychoneuroendocrinology 2000;25:497-512.  Back to cited text no. 8
Dieterich M, Bense S, Lutz S, Drzezga A, Stephan T, Bartenstein P, et al. Dominance for vestibular cortical function in the non-dominant hemisphere. Cereb Cortex 2003;13:994-1007.  Back to cited text no. 9
Brandler WM, Morris AP, Evans DM, Scerri TS, Kemp JP, Timpson NJ, et al. Common variants in left/right asymmetry genes and pathways are associated with relative hand skill. PLoS Genet 2013;9:e1003751.  Back to cited text no. 10
Duruöz MT. Assessment of hand functions. In: Duruöz M, editors. Hand Function. New York, NY: Springer; 2014.  Back to cited text no. 11
Lawrence EL, Dayanidhi S, Fassola I, Requejo P, Leclercq C, Winstein CJ, et al. Outcome measures for hand function naturally reveal three latent domains in older adults: Strength, coordinated upper extremity function, and sensorimotor processing. Front Aging Neurosci 2015;7:108.  Back to cited text no. 12
Cohen DD, Voss C, Taylor MJ, Stasinopoulos DM, Delextrat A, Sandercock GR. Handgrip strength in English schoolchildren. Acta Paediatr 2010;99:1065-72.  Back to cited text no. 13
Gubelmann C, Vollenweider P, Marques-Vidal P. Association of grip strength with cardiovascular risk markers. Eur J Prev Cardiol 2017;24:514-21.  Back to cited text no. 14
Ramírez-Vélez R, Meneses-Echavez JF, González-Ruíz K, Correa JE. [Muscular fitness and cardiometabolic risk factors among Colombian young adults]. Nutr Hosp 2014;30:769-75.  Back to cited text no. 15
Grøntved A, Ried-Larsen M, Møller NC, Kristensen PL, Froberg K, Brage S, et al. Muscle strength in youth and cardiovascular risk in young adulthood (the European Youth Heart Study). Br J Sports Med 2015;49:90-4.  Back to cited text no. 16
Ruiz JR, Sui X, Lobelo F, Morrow JR Jr, Jackson AW, Sjöström M, et al. Association between muscular strength and mortality in men: Prospective cohort study. BMJ 2008;337:a439.  Back to cited text no. 17
Ervin RB, Fryar CD, Wang CY, Miller IM, Ogden CL. Strength and body weight in US children and adolescents. Pediatrics 2014;134:e782-9.  Back to cited text no. 18
Svens B, Lee H. Intra- and inter-instrument reliability of Grip-Strength Measurements: GripTrackTM and Jamar® hand dynamometers. Br J Hand Ther 2005;10:47-55.  Back to cited text no. 19
Manali S, Vishakha P, Rajashree N. Assessment of functional performance of lower extremity and effect of leg dominance on the same in young asymptomatic individuals. Int J. Physiother Res 2016;4:1423-8.  Back to cited text no. 20
Loffing F, Hagemann N, Strauss B. Left-handedness in professional and amateur tennis. PLoS One 2012;7:e49325.  Back to cited text no. 21
Federation of International Polo. Rules and Procedures; 2018. Available from: https://www.fippolo.com/rules-procedures. [Last retrieved on 2019 July 14].  Back to cited text no. 22
Groslambert A, Nachon M, Rouillon JD. Influence of the age on self regulation of static grip forces from perceived exertion values. Neurosci Lett 2002;325:52-6.  Back to cited text no. 23
Hoffmann ER. Movement of times of left and right handers using their preferred and non-preferred hands. Int J Industr Ergon 1997;19:49-57.  Back to cited text no. 24
Roy EA, Bryden P, Cavill S. Hand differences in pegboard performance through development. Brain Cogn 2003;53:315-7.  Back to cited text no. 25
Oldfield RC. The assessment and analysis of handedness: The Edinburg inventory. Neuropsycholog 1971;9:97-113.  Back to cited text no. 26
Hepping AM, Ploegmakers JJ, Geertzen JH, Bulstra SK, Stevens M. The influence of hand preference on grip strength in children and adolescents; A cross-sectional study of 2284 children and adolescents. PLoS One 2015;10:e0143476.  Back to cited text no. 27
Balogun JA, Akomolafe CT, Amusa LO. Grip strength: Effects of testing posture and elbow position. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 1991;72:280-3.  Back to cited text no. 28
Bechtol CO. Grip test; the use of a dynamometer with adjustable handle spacings. J Bone Joint Surg Am 1954;36-A: 820-4.  Back to cited text no. 29
de Souza MA, de Jesus Alves de Baptista CR, Baranauskas Benedicto MM, Pizzato TM, Mattiello-Sverzut AC. Normative data for hand grip strength in healthy children measured with a bulb dynamometer: A cross-sectional study. Physiotherapy 2014;100:313-8.  Back to cited text no. 30
Omar MT, Alghadir A, Al Baker S. Norms for hand grip strength in children aged 6-12 years in Saudi Arabia. Dev Neurorehabil 2015;18:59-64.  Back to cited text no. 31
Häger-Ross C, Rösblad B. Norms for grip strength in children aged 4-16 years. Acta Paediatr 2002;91:617-25.  Back to cited text no. 32
Pande SS, Shaikh N, Chutani A. Effect of hand dominance and body mass index on maximal isometric hand grip strength in normal young adults. Indian J Basic Appl Med Res. 2016;6;25-30.  Back to cited text no. 33
Koley S, Singh AP. An association of dominant hand grip strength with some anthropometric variables in Indian collegiate population. Anthropol Anz 2009;67:21-8.  Back to cited text no. 34
Adebisi IH, Agbonlahor EI. Relationship between anthropometrics and handgrip strength among Nigerian school children. Biomed Human Kinet 2017;9:51-6.  Back to cited text no. 35
Nakandala P, Manchanayake J, Narampanawa J, Neeraja T, Pavithra S, Mafahir M, et al. Descriptive study of hand grip strength and factors associated with it in a group of young undergraduate students in university of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka who are not participating in regular physical training. Int J Physiother 2019;6:82-8.  Back to cited text no. 36


  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]


Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
Access Statistics
Email Alert *
Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)

  In this article
Materials and Me...
Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded5    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal