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Influence of Motor Imagery Modality on First-Serve Performance in Tennis Players

Dominique Laurent, Robbin Carien, and Nicolas Robin

Motor imagery (MI) is frequently used in tennis players. This pilot study aimed to assess whether the MI modality and preference of skilled tennis players could influence their service performance when using MI before serving first balls. Twenty expert players (M age = 18.6 years) completed the movement imagery questionnaire (third version) to assess their MI modality scores (internal visual, external visual, and kinesthetic) and their MI preference. Participants completed 4 experimental counterbalanced sessions spread over 4 weeks, each including the completion of 20 first-serve balls in match condition. The sessions included a control condition (i.e., only physical practice trials) and three MI conditions during which the players had to mentally imagine themselves performing a serve according to one of the imagery modalities, either internal visual, external visual, or kinesthetic, before serving. The percentage of success, the speed of the service balls (measured by a tablet with SWING VISION and a radar gun), and an efficiency score were recorded and then evaluated by experts and served as performance indicators and dependent variables. The results of this study showed that players benefited from MI before serving and that almost a third of the participants achieved a higher percentage of success and efficiency scores when using their preferred MI modality. These results lead us, in an applied way, to suggest to skilled tennis players to determine their MI preference and to have recourse to the mental simulation of a successful serve before serving the first balls in match condition.

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A Study of the Effects of Motor Experience on Neuromuscular Control Strategies During Sprint Starts

Zhengye Pan, Lushuai Liu, Yuan Sun, and Yunchao Ma

Much of the current research on sprint start has attempted to analyze the biomechanical characteristics of elite athletes to provide guidance on the training of sprint technique, with less attention paid to the effects of motor experience gained from long-term training on neuromuscular control characteristics. The present study attempted to investigate the effect of motor experience on the modular organization of the neuromuscular system during starting, based on he clarification of the characteristics of muscle synergies during starting. It was found that exercise experience did not promote an increase in the number of synergies but rather a more focused timing of the activation of each synergy, allowing athletes to quickly complete the postural transition from crouching to running during the starting.

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Response of Knee Joint Biomechanics to Landing Under Internal and External Focus of Attention in Female Volleyball Players

Lukáš Slovák, David Zahradník, William M. Land, Javad Sarvestan, Joseph Hamill, and Reza Abdollahipour

The aim of this study was to examine the effect of attentional focus instructions on the biomechanical variables associated with the risk of anterior cruciate ligament injury of the knee joint during a drop landing task using a time series analysis. Ten female volleyball players (age: 20.4 ± 0.8 years, height: 169.7 ± 7.1 cm, mass: 57.6 ± 3.1 kg, experience: 6.3 ± 0.8 years) performed landings from a 50 cm height under three different attentional focus conditions: (1) external focus (focus on landing as soft as possible), (2) internal focus (focus on bending your knees when you land), and (3) control (no-focus instruction). Statistical parameter mapping in the sagittal plane during the crucial first 30% of landing time showed a significant effect of attentional focus instructions. Despite the similarity in landing performance across foci instructions, adopting an external focus instruction promoted reduced vertical ground reaction force and lower sagittal flexion moment during the first 30% of execution time compared to internal focus, suggesting reduced knee loading. Therefore, adopting an external focus of attention was suggested to reduce most biomechanical risk variables in the sagittal plane associated with anterior cruciate ligament injuries, compared to internal focus and control condition. No significant differences were found in the frontal and horizontal planes between the conditions during this crucial interval.

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Acute and Acclimated Effects of Wearing Compression Garments on Balance Control in Community-Dwelling Older Adults

You-jou Hung, Frederick Couverette, Jeffrey Hamon, and Dustyn Willard

Falls are very serious health concerns among older adults. Providing additional cutaneous and proprioceptive feedback to older adults may enhance their balance control and therefore reduce the incidents of falls. This study aimed to investigate the acute and acclimated effect of wearing waist-to-above-ankle compression garments (CGs) on balance control in community-dwelling older adults. Thirty-one older adults participated in the study. The Timed Up and Go, Berg Balance Scale, and the Fall Risk Test of the Biodex Balance System were used in a random order to examine balance control in three testing sessions 1 week apart. Results indicated wearing CGs had a significant impact on the Timed Up and Go test (p < .001), Berg Balance Scale (p = .001), and the Fall Risk Test (p = .001). For the Timed Up and Go test, participants exhibited significant improvement in both the acute (8.68 vs. 7.91 s) and acclimated effect (7.91 vs. 7.41 s) of wearing CGs. For the Berg Balance Scale, participants showed significant improvement after wearing CGs for 1 week in comparison to the no CGs condition (55.77 vs. 55.39 points). For the Fall Risk Test, participants showed a significant improvement in the acute effect of wearing CGs in comparison to the no CGs condition (1.55° vs. 1.31°). This exploratory study showed that wearing waist-to-above-ankle CGs provided a positive impact on balance control in healthy community-dwelling older adults. It lays the foundation for future studies with a larger sample size to investigate the potential benefits of wearing CGs in individuals with balance control deficits and/or other comorbidities.

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Assessing Postural Control From Birth to Adulthood Among Individuals Born Preterm: A Systematic Review

Soraia Pereira, Augusta Silva, Rubim Santos, and Cláudia Costa Silva

Premature life exposure, meaning an immature central nervous system, presents a significant challenge for the development of postural control and, in turn, overall motor development. Preventing motor delay thus requires identifying, characterizing, and quantifying deficit in postural control as early as possible. In our study, we reviewed the procedures used in past studies to assess postural control among individuals born preterm, specifically the characterization of participants, the instruments and motor tasks involved, the types of data collected and analyzed, and the outcomes. To that end, we performed a literature search on PubMed, Wiley Online Library, Web of Science, and Scopus using Boolean logic and assessed the quality of the studies with a standardized assessment based on the Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology guidelines and the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions. Of 35 potential studies, 24 were included; all evaluated infants born preterm, but six did not include a control group of full-term infants. Although the heterogeneity of measurements, variability of instruments, and divergence in motor tasks examined limit definitive conclusions based on quantitative synthesis and the generalization of the results, most studies revealed dysfunctional postural control among individuals born preterm.

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Influence of Pedal Interface During Pedaling With the Upper Versus Lower Limbs: A Pilot Analysis of Torque Performance and Muscle Synergies

Laurent Vigouroux, Théo Cartier, and Guillaume Rao

Pedaling is a physical exercise practiced with either the upper or the lower limbs. Muscle coordination during these exercises has been previously studied using electromyography and synergy analysis, and three to four synergies have been identified for the lower and upper limbs. The question of synergy adaptabilities has not been investigated during pedaling with the upper limbs, and the impact of various modalities is yet not known. This study investigates the effect of pedal type (either clipped/gripped or flat) on the torque performance and the synergy in both upper and lower limbs. Torques applied by six participants while pedaling at 30% of their maximal power have been recorded for both upper and lower limbs. Electromyographic data of 11 muscles on the upper limbs and 11 muscles on the lower limbs have been recorded and synergies extracted and compared between pedal types. Results showed that the torques were not modified by the pedal types for the lower limbs while a deep adaptation is observable for the upper limbs. Participants indeed used the additional holding possibility by pulling the pedals on top of the pushing action. Synergies were accordingly modified for upper limbs while they remain stable for the lower limbs. In both limbs, the synergies showed a good reproducibility even if larger variabilities were observed for the upper limbs. This pilot study highlights the adaptability of muscle synergies according to the condition of movement execution, especially observed for the upper limbs, and can bring some new insights for the rehabilitation exercises.

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Volume 28 (2024): Issue 2 (Apr 2024)

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Acute Effect of Video Feedback on Self-Regulation and Proprioceptive Control of Standing Back Tuck Somersault in the Absence of Vision

Nour Mohamed Abahnini, Khemais Abahnini, and Bessem Mkaouer

The purpose of this study was to assess the immediate effect of video feedback on the regulation and control of the standing back tuck somersault in the absence of vision. Two groups of male parkour athletes performed the standing back tuck somersault under both open and closed eyes conditions. The first group received video feedback, while the second group received verbal feedback. Concurrent analysis, including kinetic data from a force plate (Kistler Quattro-Jump) and kinematic data in two-dimensional by Kinovea freeware, was employed for motion and technical performance analysis. The results indicate that the loss of vision during the standing back tuck somersault affected only the take-off and ungrouping angle, as well as the vertical velocity and displacement. These effects were consistent regardless of the type of feedback provided (i.e., video feedback or verbal feedback). Furthermore, a significant Vision × Feedback interaction was observed at the level of technical performance. This suggests that the use of video feedback enabled the parkour athletes to maintain a high level of technical performance both with and without vision (i.e., 13.56 vs. 13.00 points, respectively, p > .05 and d = 2.233). However, the verbal feedback group technical performance declined significantly under the no-vision condition compared with the vision condition (13.14 vs. 10.25 points, respectively, with and without vision, p < .001 and d = 2.382). We concluded that when the movement is proprioceptively controlled (i.e., without vision), the video feedback enables the athletes to globally assess the technical deficiencies arising from the lack of vision and to correct them. These findings are discussed based on parkour athletes’ ability to evaluate the kinematic parameters of the movement.

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Differences in Lower-Extremity Joint Coordination During Two Landing Phases of a Drop Jump Task

JiaWei Wang and Ye Liu

The aim of the present study was to compare the differences in joint coordination patterns and variability in the lower extremity between the first and second landing phases of the drop jump. Eighteen resistance-trained men (age: 22.8 ± 1.8 years) performed drop jumps from a height of 0.40 m. An eight-camera motion capture system was utilized to record kinematic trajectories. Modified vector coding technique and circular statistics were used to determine the coordination pattern and variability of the following joint couples during the first and second landings: hip frontal–knee frontal (HfKf), hip sagittal–knee frontal (HsKf), hip sagittal–knee sagittal (HsKs), knee frontal–ankle frontal (KfAf), knee sagittal–ankle frontal (KsAf), and knee sagittal–ankle sagittal (KsAs). Statistical differences in the distribution frequencies of coupling angles and variability between the dominant and nondominant limbs across the two landing phases were compared using two-way repeated analysis of variance and Wilcoxon rank-sum tests. During the second landing phase, the proportion of HsKs, KfAf, and KsAs showing in-phase coordination was reduced but the proportion of KfAf and KsAs showing proximal joint (knee) coordination was increased (p < .05). Significant differences in bilateral asymmetry were observed only for the HfKf and KfAf patients (p < .05). HsKs, KfAf, and KsAf varied considerably during the second landing phase (p < .05). Joint coordination patterns during the second landing phase of the drop jump differed considerably from those during the first landing phase, thereby increasing the risk of knee and ankle injuries.

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Quantifying Human Gait Symmetry During Blindfolded Treadmill Walking

Otella Shoja, Masoumeh Shojaei, Hamidollah Hassanlouei, Farzad Towhidkhah, and Lei Zhang

Bilateral gait symmetry is an essential requirement for normal walking since asymmetric gait patterns increase the risk of falls and injuries. While human gait control heavily relies on the contribution of sensory inputs, the role of sensory systems in producing symmetric gait has remained unclear. This study evaluated the influence of vision as a dominant sensory system on symmetric gait production. Ten healthy adults performed treadmill walking with and without vision. Twenty-two gait parameters including ground reaction forces, joint range of motion, and other spatial–temporal gait variables were evaluated to quantify gait symmetry and compared between both visual conditions. Visual block caused increased asymmetry in most parameters of ground reaction force, however mainly in the vertical direction. When vision was blocked, symmetry of the ankle and knee joint range of motion decreased, but this change did not occur in the hip joint. Stance and swing time symmetry decreased during no-vision walking while no significant difference was found for step length symmetry between the two conditions. This study provides a comprehensive analysis to reveal how the visual system influences bilateral gait symmetry and highlights the important role of vision in gait control. This approach could be applied to investigate how vision alters gait symmetry in patients with disorders to help better understand the role of vision in pathological gaits.