Biomechanical Model of the Press Handstand in Gymnastics

in Journal of Applied Biomechanics

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Spiros G. Prassas
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A biomechanical model of the press handstand was developed to evaluate and predict the shoulder joint torque requirements as well as the motion of a gymnast’s center of mass (CM) from an initial to a final (handstand) position. Five press handstands executed by gymnasts of differing abilities were filmed and analyzed. The results were compared to the predicted parameters of simulated presses. It was found that execution of the skill with fewer fluctuations in trunk and lower extremities angular velocity—a characteristic of skilled performance—required smoother and at times larger shoulder joint torques. Reduction of the hip joint angle by only 5 or 10° did not substantially reduce the shoulder joint torque requirements. Regarding CM motion, it was found that during performance the CM continuously elevated and remained close to a vertical line passing through the center of the wrist joint. All gymnasts, however, were found to be leaning slightly backward during the first part of the movement and slightly forward during the later phases. Modifications in wrist joint angle required to maintain each gymnast’s CM precisely above the center of the wrist joint were investigated.

Spiros G. Prassas is with the Department of Exercise and Sport Science at Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

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