Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 223, Issue 4, pp 553–562 | Cite as

Impact of ankle muscle fatigue and recovery on the anticipatory postural adjustments to externally initiated perturbations in dynamic postural control

  • Ashleigh Kennedy
  • Arnaud Guevel
  • Heidi Sveistrup
Research Article


The aim of this study was to determine whether and how young participants modulate their postural response to compensate for postural muscle fatigue during predictable but externally initiated continuous and oscillatory perturbations. Twelve participants performed ten postural trials before and after an ankle muscle fatigue protocol. Each postural trial was 1 min long and consisted of continuous backward and forward oscillations of the platform. Fatigue was induced by intermittent, bilateral isometric contractions of the ankle plantar- and dorsiflexors until the force production was reduced to 50 % of the pre-fatigue maximal voluntary contraction. Changes in the center of mass (COM) displacement, center of pressure (COP) displacement, and anterior–posterior location of the COP within the base of support were quantified as well as the activity of the tibialis anterior (TA), medial gastrocnemius (MG), quadriceps, and hamstring. All participants demonstrated postural stability post-fatigue by maintaining the displacement of their COM. Everyone also demonstrated a general forward shift in the anterior–posterior location of the COP within the base of support; however, two distinct postural modifications, corresponding to either an immediate fatigue-induced increase or decrease in the COP displacement during the backward platform translation, were recorded immediately post-fatigue. The changes in muscle onset latencies lasted beyond the recovery of the force production of the fatigued postural muscles. By 10 min post-fatigue, the participants showed a decrease in the COP displacement as well as an earlier activation of the postural muscles and an increased TA/MG co-activation relative to pre-fatigue. Although different strategies were used, the participants were able to adjust to and overcome postural muscle fatigue and remain balanced during the postural perturbations regardless of the direction of the platform movement. These adjustments lasted beyond the recovery of the ankle muscle force production indicating that they may be part of a centrally mediated protective response as opposed to a peripherally induced limitation to performance.


Anticipatory postural adjustment Neuromuscular fatigue Dynamic posture Recovery 


  1. Adkin AL, Frank JS, Carpenter MG, Peysar GW (2000) Postural control is scaled to level of postural threat. Gait Posture 12:87–93PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Amann M, Dempsey JA (2008) Locomotor muscle fatigue modifies central motor drive in healthy humans and imposes a limitation to exercise performance. J Physiol 586:161–173PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Benvenuti F, Stanhope SJ, Thomas SL, Panzer VP, Hallett M (1997) Flexibility of anticipatory postural adjustments revealed by self-paced and reaction-time arm movements. Brain Res 761:59–70PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bouisset S, Zattara M (1987) Biomechanical study of the programming of anticipatory postural adjustments associated with voluntary movement. J Biomech 20:735–742PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bugnariu N, Fung J (2007) Aging and selective sensorimotor strategies in the regulation of unright balance. J NeuroEng Rehabil 4:19PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bugnariu N, Sveistrup H (2006) Age-related changes in postural responses to externally- and self-triggered continuous perturbations. Arch Geron Geriat 42:73–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Carpenter MG, Frank JS, Adkin AL, Paton A, Allum JHJ (2004) Influence of postural anxiety on postural reactions to multi-directional surface rotations. J Neurophysiol 92:3255–3265PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Davidson BS, Madigan ML, Nussbaum MA, Wojcik LA (2009) Effects of localized muscle fatigue on recovery from a postural perturbation without stepping. Gait Posture 29:552–557PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dietz V, Trippel M, Ibrahim IK, Berger W (1993) Human stance on a sinusoidally translating platform: balance control by feedforward and feedback mechanisms. Exp Brain Res 93:352–362PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Enoka RM, Duchateau J (2008) Muscle fatigue: what, why and how it influences muscle function. J Physiol 586:11–23PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fox ZG, Mihalik JP, Blackburn T, Battaglini CL, Guskiewicz KM (2008) Return of postural control to baseline after anaerobic and aerobic exercise protocols. J Athl Train 43:456–463PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Goble DJ, Coxon JP, Wenderoth N, Van Impe S, Swinnen SP (2009) Proprioceptive sensibility in the elderly: degeneration, functional consequences and plastic-adaptive processes. Neursci Biobehav R 33:271–278CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hermens H, Freriks B, Disselhorst-Klug C, Rau G (2000) Development of recommendations for SEMG sensors and sensor placement procedures. J Electromogr Kinesiol 10:361–375CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Horak F (2006) Postural orientation and equilibrium: what do we need to know about neural control of balance to prevent falls? Age Aging 32:ii7–ii11Google Scholar
  15. Horak FB, Diener HC, Nashner LM (1989) Influence of central set on human postural responses. J Neurophysiol 62:841–853PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Hughey LK, Fung J (2005) Postural response triggered by multidirectional leg lifts and surface tilts. Exp Brain Res 165:152–166PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Johnston RB, Howard ME, Cawley PW, Losse GM (1998) Effect of lower extremity muscular fatigue on motor control performance. Med Sci Sports Exe 30:1703–1707CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kanekar N, Santos MJ, Aruin AS (2008) Anticipatory postural control following fatigue of postural and focal muscles. Clin Neurophysiol 119:2304–2313PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kennedy A, Hug F, Bilodeau M, Sveistrup H, Guével A (2011a) Neuromuscular fatigue induced by alternating isometric contractions of the ankle plantar and dorsiflexors. J Electromyogr Kinesiol 21:471–477PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kennedy A, Sveistrup H, Guével A (2011b) Habituation to unexpected postural perturbations. In: Society for Neuroscience, vol 812, Washington, DC, p 5Google Scholar
  21. Kuo AD, Zajac FE (1993) A biomechanical analysis of muscle strength as a limiting factor in standing posture. J Biomech 26:137–150PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Laughton CA, Slavin M, Katdare K et al (2003) Aging, muscle activity, and balance control: physiologic changes associated with balance impairment. Gait Posture 18:101–108PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Mahyar S, Mojgan M, Ismaeil E, Amir Massoud A (2007) Changes in postural stability with fatigue of lower extremity frontal and sagittal plane movers. Gait Posture 26:214–218CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Nardone A, Tarantola J, Galante M, Schieppati M (1998) Time course of stabilometric changes after a strenuous treadmill exercise. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 79:920–924PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Nardone A, Galante M, Pareyson D, Schieppati M (2007) Balance control in sensory neuron disease. Clin Neurophysiol 118:538–550PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Noakes TD, St Clair Gibson A, Lambert EV (2005) From catastrophe to complexity: a novel model of integrative central neural regulation of effort and fatigue during exercise in humans: summary and conclusions. Br J Sports Med 39:120–124PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Okada S, Hirakawa K, Takada Y, Kinoshita H (2001) Relationship between fear of falling and balancing ability during abrupt deceleration in aging women having similar habitual physical activities. Eur J Appl Physiol 85:501–506Google Scholar
  28. Pline KM, Madigan ML, Nussbaum MA (2006) Influence of fatigue time and level on increases in postural sway. Ergonomics 49:1639–1648PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Riccio GE, Stoffregen TA (1988) Affordances as constraints on the control of stance. Hum Mov Sci 7:265–300CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Riley MA, Stoffregen TA, Grocki MJ, Turvey MT (1999) Postural stabilization for the control of touching. Hum Mov Sci 18:795–817CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Santos MJ, Kanekar N, Aruin AS (2010) The role of anticipatory postural adjustments in compensatory control of posture: 2. Biomechanical analysis. J Electromyogr Kinesiol 20:398–405PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Schmid M, Bottaro A, Sozzi S, Schieppati M (2011) Adaptation to continuous perturbation of balance: progressive reduction of postural muscle activity with invariant or increasing oscillations of the center of mass depending on perturbation frequency and vision conditions. Hum Mov Sci 30:262–278PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Scholz JP, Schoner G, Hsu WI, Jeka JJ, Horak F, Martin V (2007) Motor equivalent control of the center of mass in response to support surface perturbations. Exp Brain Res 180:163–179PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Seilder RD, Bernard JA, Burutolu TB, Gordon JT, Gwin JT, Kwak Y, Lipps D (2010) Motor control and aging: links to age-related brain structural, functional, and biochemical effects. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 34:721–733CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Shiratori T, Latash ML (2001) Anticipatory postural adjustments during load catching by standing subjects. Clin Neurophysiol 112:1250–1265Google Scholar
  36. Shumway-Cook A, Woollacott M (2007) Motor control: translating research into clinical practice. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  37. Stoffregen TA, Pagulayan RJ, Bardy BG, Hettinger LJ (2000) Modulating postural control to facilitate visual performance. Hum Mov Sci 19:203–220CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Strang AJ, Berg WB (2007) Fatigue-induced adaptive changes of anticipatory postural adjustments. Exp Brain Res 178:49–61PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Strang AJ, Choi HJ, Berg WP (2008) The effect of exhausting aerobic activity on the timing of anticipatory postural adjustments. J Sports Med Phys Fit 48:9–16Google Scholar
  40. Strang AJ, Berg WP, Hieronymus M (2009) Fatigue-induced early onset of anticipatory postural adjustments in non-fatigued muscles: support for a centrally mediated adaptation. Exp Brain Res 197:245–254PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. TCPS2 (2010) Tri-council policy statement: Ethical conduct for research involving humans. Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of CanadaGoogle Scholar
  42. Thelen E, Spencer JP (1998) Postural control during reaching in young infants: a dynamic systems approach. Neurosci Biobehav R 22:507–514CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. van der Heide JC, Otten B, van Eykern LA, Hadders-Algra M (2003) Development of postural adjustments during reaching in sitting children. Exp Brain Res 151:32–45. doi: 10.1007/s00221-003-1451-3 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Vincent WJ (2005) Statistics in kinesiology. Human Kinetics, ChampaignGoogle Scholar
  45. Vuillerme N, Nougier V, Teasdale N (2002) Effects of lower limbs muscular fatigue on anticipatory postural adjustments during arm motions in humans. J Sports Med Phys Fitness 42:289–294PubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Wilson E, Madigan M, Davidson B, Nussbaum M (2006) Postural strategy changes with fatigue of the lumbar extensor muscles. Gait Posture 23:348–354PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Wilson ML, Rome K, Hodgson D, Ball P (2008) Effect of textured foot orthotics on static and dynamic postural stability in middle-aged females. Gait Posture 27:36–42PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Yaggie JA, McGregor SJ (2002) Effects of isokinetic ankle fatigue on the maintenance of balance and postural limits. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 83:224–228PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ashleigh Kennedy
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Arnaud Guevel
    • 3
  • Heidi Sveistrup
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Rehabilitation Sciences, Health SciencesUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  2. 2.Human Kinetics, Health SciencesUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  3. 3.Laboratoire Motricité, Interactions, PerformanceUniversité de NantesNantesFrance
  4. 4.Motor Control LaboratoryUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada

Personalised recommendations