This study investigated how young healthy subjects control their equilibrium in situations of instability specifically elicited by a reduced capacity of force production in the postural muscle system. Ten subjects displaced a bar forward with both hands at maximal velocity toward a target while standing on the dominant leg (UNID), on the nondominant leg (UNIND), or on both legs. In each stance condition, anticipatory postural adjustments (APAs) were elicited. Along the anteroposterior axis, APAs were two-times longer in UNID and UNIND than in bipedal stance, while the anticipatory inertia forces remained equivalent. The focal performance was maintained without any additive postural perturbation. A small effect of leg dominance could be detected on APAs along the mediolateral axis (i.e., anticipatory inertia forces were higher in UNIND than in UNID). These results stress the adaptability of the central nervous system to the instability specifically elicited by reduced postural muscle system efficiency.
The authors are with the Laboratory of Motor Control and Perception, Faculty of Sport Sciences, University of Paris-Sud 11, 91440 Orsay Cedex, France.