Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 222, Issue 4, pp 333–344 | Cite as

Asymmetry of foot position and weight distribution channels the inter-leg coordination dynamics of standing

  • Zheng WangEmail author
  • Karl M. Newell
Research Article


The study of quiet standing has mainly been conducted in the foot side-by-side position with the assumption that the contribution of the lower limbs is structurally and functionally equivalent. The purpose of this study was to examine how the two mechanical factors of foot position and weight distribution interact to influence postural control and inter-leg coordination dynamics. Participants were required, while standing in either a side-by-side, staggered, or tandem right foot forward position, to intentionally produce three different levels of weight distribution (50/50, 30/70, and 70/30) over the two feet. Our results showed that the interaction effects of the two mechanical constraints were represented in both linear and nonlinear analyses. The center of pressure (COP) mean velocity was predominantly influenced by body weight distribution in the side-by-side stance, whereas foot position was more influential in the tandem stance. The nonlinear analysis showed that the least experienced postural condition (i.e., tandem stance with a 70/30 loading level) had the lowest number and total duration of COPL–COPR phase synchronization epochs in the AP direction that were compensated by “stable” coordination dynamics in the ML direction. The findings revealed that the staggered stance represents a “hybrid” blend of the properties of the side-by-side and tandem foot positions. Collectively, foot position and weight distribution interact to determine the stability and flexibility of inter-leg coordination dynamics in postural control.


Foot position Weight distribution Inter-leg coordination dynamics Postural control 


  1. Akritas MG (1990) The rank transform method in some two-factor designs. J Am Stat Assoc 85:73–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anker LC, Weerdesteyn V, van Nes IJW, Nienhuis B, Straatman H, Geurts ACH (2008) The relation between postural stability and weight distribution in healthy subjects. Gait Posture 27:471–477PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bardy BG (2004) Postural coordination dynamics in standing humans. In: Jirsa VK, Kelso JAS (eds) Coordination dynamics: issues and trends, 1st edn. Springer, New York, pp 103–120Google Scholar
  4. Bevans JS (1992) Biomechanics and plantar ulcers in diabetes. Foot 2:166–172CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Blaszczyk JW, Prince F, Raiche M, Hébert R (2000) Effect of ageing and vision on limb load asymmetry during quiet stance. J Biomech 33:1243–1248PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Burther PA, Woollacott MH, Qualls C (1999) Stance balance control with orthoses in a group of children with spastic cerebral palsy. Dev Med Child Neurol 41:748–757CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Day BL, Steiger MJ, Thompson PD, Marsden CD (1993) Effect of vision and stance width on human body motion when standing: implications for afferent control of lateral sway. J Physiol 469:479–499PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Dimitrova D, Horak FB, Nutt JG (2004) Postural muscle responses to multidirectional translations in patients with Parkinson’s disease. J Neurophsiol 91:489–501CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Elias LJ, Bryden MP, Bulman-Fleming MB (1997) Footedness is a better predictor than is handedness of emotional lateralization. Neuropsychologia 36:37–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Eng JJ, Chu KS (2002) Reliability and comparison of weight-bearing ability during standing task for individuals with chronic stroke. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 83:1138–1144PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ferdjallah M, Harris GF, Smith P, Wertsch JJ (2002) Analysis of postural control synergies during quiet standing in healthy children and children with cerebral palsy. Clin Biomech 17:203–210CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fuchs A, Jirsa VK, Haken H, Kelso JAS (1996) Extending the HKB model of coordinated movement to oscillators with different eigenfrequencies. Biol Cybern 74:21–30PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gage JR (1991) Gait analysis in cerebral palsy. Mac Keith Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  14. Gatev P, Thomas S, Thomas K, Hallett M (1999) Feedforward ankle strategy of balance during quiet stance in adults. J Physiol 514:915–928PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Genthon N, Rougier PR (2005) Influence of an asymmetrical body weight distribution on the control of undisturbed upright stance. J Biomech 38:2037–2049PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Geurts AC, Nienhuis B, Mulder TW (1993) Intrasubject variability of selected force-platform parameters in the quantification of postural control. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 74:1144–1150PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Geurts ACH, de Haart M, van Nes IJW, Duysens J (2005) A review of standing balance recovery from stroke. Gait Posture 22:267–281PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Goldie PA, Bach TM, Evans OM (1989) Force platform measures for evaluating postural control: reliability and validity. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 70:510–517PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Greene DA, Stevens MJ, Feldman EL (1999) Diabetic neuropathy: scope of the syndrome. Am J Med 107:2–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Haken H, Kelso JAS, Bunz H (1985) A theoretical model of phase transitions in human hand movements. Biol Cybern 51:347–356PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hamilton JD (1994) Time series analysis. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJGoogle Scholar
  22. Holbein MA, Chaffin DB (1997) Stability limits in extreme postures: effects of load positioning, foot placement and strength. Hum Factors 39:456–468PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Horak FB, Dimitrova D, Nutt JG (2005) Direction-specific postural instability in subjects with Parkinson’s disease. Exp Neurol 193:504–521PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hufschmidt A, Dichgans J, Mauritz KH, Hufschmidt M (1980) Some methods and parameters of body sway quantification and their neurological applications. Arch Psychiatr Nervenkr 228:727–738CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Jonsson E, Seiger Å, Hirschfeld H (2005) Postural steadiness and weight distribution during tandem stance in healthy young and elderly adults. Clin Biomech 20:202–208CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kelso JAS (1995) Dynamic patterns: the self-organization of brain and behavior. The MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  27. Kelso JAS, DelColle JD, Schöner G (1990) Action-perception as a pattern formation process. In: Jeannerod M (ed) Attention and performance XIII: motor representation and control. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc, Hillsdale, New Jersey, pp 139–169Google Scholar
  28. King AC, Wang Z, Newell KM (2012) Asymmetry of recurrent dynamics as a function of postural stance. Exp Brain Res. doi: 10.1007/s00221-012-3133-5 Google Scholar
  29. Kirby RL, Price NA, MacLeod DA (1987) The influence of foot position on standing balance. J Biomech 20:423–427PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lacquaniti F, Maioli C (1994a) Independent control of limb position and contact forces in cat posture. J Neurophysiol 72:1476–1495PubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Lacquaniti F, Maioli C (1994b) Coordinate transformations in the control of cat posture. J Neurophysiol 72:1496–1515PubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Lacquaniti F, Le Taillanter M, Lopiano L, Maioli C (1990) The control of limb geometry in cat posture. J Physiol 426:177–192PubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Maki BE, Holliday PJ, Fernie GR (1990) Aging and postural control: a comparison of spontaneous- and induced-sway balance test. J Am Geriatr Soc 38:1–9PubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Mardia KV (1975) Statistics of directional data. J R Stat Soc Ser C Appl Stat 37:349–393Google Scholar
  35. Massion J (1994) Postural control system. Curr Opin Neurobiol 4:877–887PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Mochizuki L, Duarte M, Zatsiorsky VM, Amadio AC, Latash ML (1999) Effects of different bases of support on postural sway. Abstract, 23rd annual meeting of the American Society of Biomechanics, pp 260–261Google Scholar
  37. Nashner LM, Grimm RJ (1978) Analysis of multiloop dyscontrols in standing cerebellar patients. In: Desmedt JE (ed) Cerebral motor control in man: long loop mechanisms. S. Karger, Basel, pp 300–319Google Scholar
  38. Nashner LM, McCollum G (1985) The organization of human postural movements: a formal basis and experimental synthesis. Behav Brain Sci 8:135–150CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Prado J, Castanharo R, Vilela M, Duarte M (2010) Humans are asymmetric during natural standing but they do not have a preferred leg for standing. Abstract retrieved from PMC VIII.
  40. Prieto TE, Myklebust JB, Hoffmann RG, Lovett EG, Myklebust BM (1996) Measures of postural steadiness: differences between healthy young and elderly adults. IEEE Trans Biomed Eng 43:956–966PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Rao JS (1976) Some tests based on arc-lengths for the circle. Sankhya Ser B 33:1–10Google Scholar
  42. Riccio GE (1993) Information in movement variability about the qualitative dynamics of posture and orientation. In: Newell KM, Corcos DM (eds) Variability and motor control. Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL, pp 317–357Google Scholar
  43. Rosenblum M, Kurths J (1998) Analyzing synchronization phenomena from bivariate data by means of the Hilbert transform. In: Kantz H, Kurths J, Mayer-Kress G (eds) Nonlinear analysis of physiological data. Springer, Berlin, pp 91–99CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Selby G (1968) Parkinson’s disease. In: Vinken PJ, Bruyn GW (eds) Handbook of clinical neurology: diseases of the basal ganglia. North-Holland Pub Co, Amsterdam, pp 173–211Google Scholar
  45. Summers GD, Morrison JD, Cochrane GM (1987) Foot loading characteristics of amputees and normal subjects. Prosthet Orthot Int 11:33–39PubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Talis VL, Grishin AA, Solopova IA, Oskanyan TL, Belenky VE, Ivanenko YP (2008) Asymmetric leg loading during sit-to-stand, walking and quiet standing in patients after unilateral total hip replacement surgery. Clin Biomech 23:424–433CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Van Schie CHM, Vermigli C, Carrington AL, Boulton A (2004) Muscle weakness and foot deformities in diabetes: relationship to neuropathy and foot ulceration in caucasian diabetic men. Diabetes Care 27:1668–1673PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. von Holst E (1973) The behavioral physiology of animal and man. University of Miami Press, Coral Gables, FLGoogle Scholar
  49. Wang Z, Newell KM (2012) Phase synchronization of foot dynamics in quiet standing. Neurosci Lett 507:47–51PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Wang Z, Jordan K, Newell KM (in press) Coordination patterns of foot dynamics in the control of upright standing. Motor ControlGoogle Scholar
  51. Winter DA (1995) Human balance and posture control during standing and walking. Gait Posture 3:193–214CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Winter DA, Prince F, Stergiou P, Powell C (1993) Medial-lateral and anterior-posterior motor responses associated with centre of pressure changes in quiet standing. Neurosci Res Commun 12:141–148Google Scholar
  53. Winter DA, Prince F, Frank JS, Powll C, Zabjek KF (1996) Unified theory regarding A/P and M/L balance in quiet stance. J Neurophsyiol 75:2334–2343Google Scholar
  54. Winter DA, Patla AE, Ishac M, Gage WH (2003) Motor mechanisms of balance during quiet standing. J Electromyogr Kinesiol 13:49–56PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of KinesiologyThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

Personalised recommendations