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Semyon M. Slobounov and Karl M. Newell

This study provides a comparative analysis of certain features of upright and inverted stance in collegiate-level competitive gymnastic and diving athletes. A particular focus was the compensatory movement strategies used to maintain inverted stance. The analyses revealed that the motion of the center of pressure was significantly greater in the hand stance as opposed to the upright stance condition. Instability increased over the duration of a 15-s hand stance trial, and it was paralleled by the introduction of a small set of compensatory movement strategies that included enhanced motion at the distal segments of the legs and at the elbow joint. The compensatory movement strategies appeared to be in support of minimizing variability of motion in the head and trunk. The relative contribution of the principal sources of this instability in the hand stance remains to be determined.

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Maurice R. Yeadon and Grant Trewartha

The goal of this study was to investigate the control strategy employed by gymnasts in maintaining a hand balance. It was hypothesized that a “wrist strategy” was used in which perturbations in the sagittal plane were corrected using variations in wrist flexor torque with synergistic shoulder and hip torques acting to preserve a fixed body configuration. A theoretical model of wrist strategy indicated that control could be effected using wrist torque that was a linear function of mass center displacement and velocity. Four male gymnasts executed hand balances and 2-dimensional inverse dynamics was used to determine net joint torque time histories at the wrist, shoulder, and hip joints in the sagittal plane. Wrist torque was regressed against mass center position and velocity values at progressively earlier times. It was found that all gymnasts used the wrist strategy, with time delays ranging from 160 to 240 ms. The net joint torques at the shoulder and hip joints were regressed against the torques required to maintain a fixed configuration. This fixed configuration strategy accounted for 86% of the variance in the shoulder torque and 86% of the variance in the hip torque although the actual torques exceeded the predicted torques by 7% and 30%, respectively. The estimated time delays are consistent with the use of long latency reflexes, whereas the role of vestibular and visual information in maintaining a hand balance is less certain.