Neuromechanics of Dynamic Balance Tasks in the Presence of Perturbations
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
Understanding the neuromechanical responses to perturbations in humans may help to explain the reported improvements in stability performance and muscle strength after perturbation-based training. In this study, we investigated the effects of perturbations, induced by unstable surfaces, on the mechanical loading and the modular organization of motor control in the lower limb muscles during lunging forward and backward. Fifteen healthy adults performed 50 forward and 50 backward lunges on stable
... and unstable ground. Ground reaction forces, joint kinematics, and the electromyogram (EMG) of 13 lower limb muscles were recorded. We calculated the resultant joint moments and extracted muscle synergies from the stepping limb. We found sparse alterations in the resultant joint moments and EMG activity, indicating a little if any effect of perturbations on muscle mechanical loading. The time-dependent structure of the muscle synergy responsible for the stabilization of the body was modified in the perturbed lunges by a shift in the center of activity (later in the forward and earlier in the backward lunge) and a widening (in the backward lunge). Moreover, in the perturbed backward lunge, the synergy related to the body weight acceptance was not present. The found modulation of the modular organization of motor control in the unstable condition and related minor alteration in joint kinetics indicates increased control robustness that allowed the participants to maintain functionality in postural challenging settings. Triggering specific modulations in motor control to regulate robustness in the presence of perturbations may be associated with the reported benefits of perturbation-based training.