Effect of strength and speed of torque development on balance recovery with the ankle strategy.

Injury Prevention and Mobility Laboratory, School of Kinesiology, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, V5A 1S6 Canada.
Journal of Neurophysiology (Impact Factor: 3.3). 09/2002; 88(2):613-20.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT In the event of an unexpected disturbance to balance, the ability to recover a stable upright stance should depend not only on the magnitude of torque that can be generated by contraction of muscles spanning the lower extremity joints but also on how quickly these torques can be developed. In the present study, we used a combination of experimental and mathematical models of balance recovery by sway (feet in place responses) to test this hypothesis. Twenty-three young subjects participated in experiments in which they were supported in an inclined standing position by a horizontal tether and instructed to recover balance by contracting only their ankle muscles. The maximum lean angle where they could recover balance without release of the tether (static recovery limit) averaged 14.9 +/- 1.4 degrees (mean +/- SD). The maximum initial lean angle where they could recover balance after the tether was unexpectedly released and the ankles were initially relaxed (dynamic recovery limit) averaged 5.9 +/- 1.1 degrees, or 60 +/- 11% smaller than the static recovery limit. Peak ankle torque did not differ significantly between the two conditions (and averaged 116 +/- 32 Nm), indicating the strong effect on recovery ability of latencies in the onset and subsequent rates of torque generation (which averaged 99 +/- 13 ms and 372 +/- 267 N. m/s, respectively). Additional experiments indicated that dynamic recovery limits increased 11 +/- 14% with increases in the baseline ankle torques prior to release (from an average value of 31 +/- 18 to 54 +/- 24 N. m). These trends are in agreement with predictions from a computer simulation based on an inverted pendulum model, which illustrate the specific combinations of baseline ankle torque, rate of torque generation, and peak ankle torque that are required to attain target recovery limits.

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Stephen N Robinovitch