Changes in the relative contribution of each leg to the control of quiet two-legged stance following unilateral plantar-flexor muscles fatigue

Nicolas Vuillerme, Matthieu Boisgontier
European Journal of Applied Physiology 2010, 110 (1): 207-13
We used unilateral plantar-flexor muscles fatigue to assess the capacity of the central nervous system to adapt quiet two-legged stance control to a unilateral ankle neuromuscular perturbation. Eighteen young healthy adults stood barefoot with their eyes closed and were asked to sway as little as possible. The Experimental group (n = 9) executed this postural task in two conditions, before (pre-test) and following the completion of a fatiguing exercise designed to induce a muscular fatigue in the plantar-flexor muscles of their dominant leg (post-test). For the Control group (n = 9), this fatiguing exercise was replaced with a standing rest period corresponding to the fatiguing exercise. Results of the Experimental group showed no significant difference between the weightbearing index measured in the pre-test condition and that observed in the post-test condition. Results further revealed that unilateral plantar-flexor muscles fatigue yielded different effects on the centre of foot pressure (CoP) displacements under the non-fatigued leg and under the fatigued leg: a wider surface area of the CoP displacements was observed under the non-fatigued than under the fatigued leg, and a higher mean speed of the CoP displacements was observed under the non-fatigued leg only in the post-test relative to the pre-test condition. These findings evidenced that the contribution of each leg to the control of quiet two-legged stance is modified as a result of muscle fatigue of unilateral plantar-flexor muscles. The greater contribution of the non-fatigued leg could be viewed as a fatigue-induced adaptive change in the control of quiet two-legged stance in response to an alteration of the unilateral ankle neuromuscular function induced by unilateral plantar-flexor muscles fatigue.

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