Effects of a Prior Stretching of the Plantarflexor Muscles on the Capacity to Control Upright Stance Maintenance in Healthy Adults

in Motor Control
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To assess whether prior stretching of a muscle can induce improved postural control, 15 healthy adults stood still upright with their eyes closed before and after a series of bilateral stretches of the triceps surae muscles. The analysis focused on the center of pressure (CP) and the vertical projection of the center of gravity (CGv) trajectories and their difference (CP – CGv). The prolonged stretching induced a forward shift of the mean position of the CGv. The frequency analysis showed a constancy of the amplitudes of both basic movements whereas an increased mean power frequency was seen for the CP – CGv movements. A fractional Brownian motion modeling of the trajectories indicates shortest time intervals and lower covered distances by the CGv before a change in its control occurs along the antero-posterior axis. This reorganization is thought to be a result of improved body movement detection, which allows postural control over the longest time intervals to be triggered more rapidly.

The authors are with the Laboratoire de Modélisation des Activités Sportives, Université de Savoie, Domaine Universitaire, F 73 376 Le Bourget du Lac cedex, France.