Differential postural effects of plantar-flexor muscle fatigue under normal, altered and improved vestibular and neck somatosensory conditions

Nicolas Pinsault, Nicolas Vuillerme
Experimental Brain Research. Experimentelle Hirnforschung. Expérimentation Cérébrale 2008, 191 (1): 99-107
The aim of the present study was to assess the effects of plantar-flexor muscle fatigue on postural control during quiet standing under normal, altered and improved vestibular and neck somatosensory conditions. To address this objective, young male university students were asked to stand upright as still as possible with their eyes closed in two conditions of No Fatigue and Fatigue of the plantar-flexor muscles. In Experiment 1 (n = 15), the postural task was executed in two postures: Neutral head and Head tilted-backward postures, recognized to degrade vestibular and neck somatosensory information. In Experiment 2 (n = 15), the postural task was executed in two conditions of No tactile and Tactile stimulation of the neck provided by the application of strips of adhesive bandage to the skin over and around the neck. Centre of foot pressure displacements were recorded using a force platform. Results showed that (1) the Fatigue condition yielded increased CoP displacements relative to the No Fatigue condition (Experiment 1 and Experiment 2), (2) this destabilizing effect was more accentuated in the Head tilted-backward posture than Neutral head posture (Experiment 1) and (3) this destabilizing effect was less accentuated in the condition of Tactile stimulation than that of No tactile stimulation of the neck (Experiment 2). In the context of the multisensory control of balance, these results suggest an increased reliance on vestibular and neck somatosensory information for controlling posture during quiet standing in condition of altered ankle neuromuscular function.

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