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Stephanie L. Jones and Graham E. Caldwell

This study examined the role of mono- and biarticular muscles in control of countermovement jumps (CMJ) in different directions. It was hypothesized that monoarticular muscles would demonstrate the same activity regardless of jump direction, based on previous studies which suggest their role is to generate energy to maximize center-of-mass (CM) velocity. In contrast, biarticular activity patterns were expected to change to control the direction of the ground reaction force (GRF) and CM velocity vectors. Twelve participants performed maximal CMJs in four directions: vertical, forward, intermediate forward, and backward. Electromyographical data from 4 monoarticular and 3 biarticular lower extremity muscles were analyzed with respect to segmental kinematics and kinetics during the jumps. The biarticular rectus femoris (RF), hamstrings (HA), and gastrocnemius all exhibited changes in activity magnitude and pattern as a function of jump angle. In particular, HA and RF demonstrated reciprocal trends, with HA activity increasing as jump angle changed from backward to forward, while RF activity was reduced in the forward jump condition. The vastus lateralis and gluteus maximus both demonstrated changes in activity patterns, although the former was the only monoarticular muscle to change activity level with jump direction. Mono- and biarticular muscle activities therefore did not fit with their hypothesized roles. CM and segmental kinematics suggest that jump direction was initiated early in the countermovement, and that in each jump direction the propulsion phase began from a different position with unique angular and linear momentum. Issues that dictated the muscle activity patterns in each jump direction were the early initiation of appropriate forward momentum, the transition from countermovement to propulsion, the control of individual segment rotations, the control of GRF location and direction, and the influence of the subsequent landing.

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Richard E.A. van Emmerik, Stephanie L. Jones, Michael A. Busa and Jennifer L. Baird

Postural instability, falls, and fear of falling that accompany frailty with aging and disease form major impediments to physical activity. In this article we present a theoretical framework that may help researchers and practitioners in the development and delivery of intervention programs aimed at reducing falls and improving postural stability and locomotion in older individuals and in those with disability due to disease. Based on a review of the dynamical and complex systems perspectives of movement coordination and control, we show that 1) central to developing a movement-based intervention program aimed at fall reduction and prevention is the notion that variability can play a functional role and facilitate movement adaptability, 2) intervention programs aimed at fall reduction should focus more on coordination and stability boundary measures instead of traditional gait and posture outcome variables, and 3) noise-based intervention techniques using stochastic resonance may offer external aids to improve dynamic balance control.