Low-frequency force steadiness practice in plantar flexor muscle reduces postural sway during quiet standing

Kazushige Oshita, Sumio Yano
Journal of Physiological Anthropology 2011, 30 (6): 233-9
The purpose of this study was to assess the effect of low-frequency force steadiness practice in the plantar flexor muscles on postural sway during quiet standing. Healthy young 21 men (21±1 yrs) were randomly assigned to a practice group (n=14) and a nonexercising control group (n=7). Practice groups were divided by frequency of practice: 7 participants practiced once a week, and the other 7 twice a week, for 4 weeks. Steadiness practice required practice group to 5 sets of 60-s contraction at levels corresponding to 10% and 20% maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) in the plantar flexor muscles. The 4-week-long practice period reduced the force fluctuations (assessed as the standard deviation (SD) of the outputted force during steady isometric plantar flexion) and postural sway (assessed as SD of the center of mass velocity during quiet standing). However, these practice effects were not significantly affected by the practice frequencies (1 vs. 2 sessions per week) examined in this study. Further, a linear regression analysis revealed the association between prepractice postural sway and the relative change in postural sway by the practice (r=-0.904) in the practice group. These results suggest that the steadiness practice in plantar flexor muscles improves postural stability during quiet standing, even though the practice is low-frequency (once a week) and low-intensity (within 20% MVC). These practice effects are dependent on prepractice postural stability. Further, the present results have provided the functional significance of force fluctuation in lower limb muscles.

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