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Thomas Muehlbauer, Christian Schindler and Stefan Panzer

Purpose:

This study assessed the effect of time spent in several race sectors (S) on finishing time and determined the variance in distribution of skating time and in total race time for official 1000-m sprint races conducted during a competitive season.

Methods:

Total race and sector times for the first 200 m (S1) and the following two 400-m laps (S2 and S3) of 34 female and 31 male elite speed skaters performed during a series of World Cup Meetings were analyzed.

Results:

Overall, skaters started fast, reached their peak in S2, and slowed down in S3, irrespective of race category considered (eg, rank of athlete, number of race, altitude of rink, starting lane). Regression analyses revealed that spending a shorter fraction of time in the last (women in S3: B = 239.1; P < .0001; men in S3: B = 201.5; P < .0001) but not in the first (women in S1: B = -313.1; P < .0001; men in S1: B = -345.6; P < .0001) race sector is associated with a short total race time. Upper- compared with lower-ranked skaters varied less in competition-to-competition sector and total race times (women: 0.02 to 0.33 vs 0.02 to 0.51; men: 0.01 to 0.15 vs 0.02 to 0.57).

Conclusion:

This study confirmed that skaters adopted a fast start pacing strategy during official 1000-m sprint races. However, analyses indicate that shortening time in the closing but not in the starting sector is beneficial for finishing fast. In addition, findings suggest that lower-ranked skaters should concentrate training on lowering their competition-to-competition variability in sector times.

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Peter Leinen, Thomas Muehlbauer and Stefan Panzer

The present study investigated if accumulated, advanced, regular soccer practice (balance-demanding exercise) compared to regular swim practice (non-balance–demanding exercise) induces a more pronounced functional specialization in postural control. Therefore, single-leg balance performance in sub-elite young soccer players (under 13 [U13]: n = 16; U15: n = 18; U19: n = 15), and sub-elite young swimmers (U13: n = 7; U15: n = 4; U19: n = 5) was tested in different balance task conditions (i.e., static and dynamic balance on firm and foam surface). All athletes practiced 3–10 times per week. Single-leg balance of the dominant and non-dominant leg was measured using a force plate. The standard deviation of the center of pressure displacements in anterior-posterior and medio-lateral directions were used as dependent variables. Irrespective of age groups and type of sport, the results failed to indicate significant leg differences in single-leg balance performance. The soccer players showed significant better single-leg balance performance in anterior-posterior direction in the dynamic balance test on the firm and foam surface compared to the swimmers. Functional specialization was accompanied by the type of sport but not by accumulated practice.

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Thomas Muehlbauer, Claude Mettler, Ralf Roth and Urs Granacher

The purpose of this study was to compare static balance performance and muscle activity during one-leg standing on the dominant and nondominant leg under various sensory conditions with increased levels of task difficulty. Thirty healthy young adults (age: 23 ± 2 years) performed one-leg standing tests for 30 s under three sensory conditions (ie, eyes open/firm ground; eyes open/foam ground [elastic pad on top of the balance plate]; eyes closed/firm ground). Center of pressure displacements and activity of four lower leg muscles (ie, m. tibialis anterior [TA], m. soleus [SOL], m. gastrocnemius medialis [GAS], m. peroneus longus [PER]) were analyzed. An increase in sensory task difficulty resulted in deteriorated balance performance (P < .001, effect size [ES] = .57−2.54) and increased muscle activity (P < .001, ES = .50−1.11) for all but two muscles (ie, GAS, PER). However, regardless of the sensory condition, one-leg standing on the dominant as compared with the nondominant limb did not produce statistically significant differences in various balance (P > .05, ES = .06−.22) and electromyographic (P > .05, ES = .03−.13) measures. This indicates that the dominant and the nondominant leg can be used interchangeably during static one-leg balance testing in healthy young adults.

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Urs Granacher, Andre Lacroix, Katrin Roettger, Albert Gollhofer and Thomas Muehlbauer

This study investigated associations between variables of trunk muscle strength (TMS), spinal mobility, and balance in seniors. Thirty-four seniors (sex: 18 female, 16 male; age: 70 ± 4 years; activity level: 13 ± 7 hr/week) were tested for maximal isometric strength (MIS) of the trunk extensors, flexors, lateral flexors, rotators, spinal mobility, and steady-state, reactive, and proactive balance. Significant correlations were detected between all measures of TMS and static steady-state balance (r = .43−.57, p < .05). Significant correlations were observed between specific measures of TMS and dynamic steady-state balance (r = .42−.55, p < .05). No significant correlations were found between all variables of TMS and reactive/proactive balance and between all variables of spinal mobility and balance. Regression analyses revealed that TMS explains between 1–33% of total variance of the respective balance parameters. Findings indicate that TMS is related to measures of steady-state balance which may imply that TMS promoting exercises should be integrated in strength training for seniors.