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Maximal and explosive force production capacity and balance performance in men of different ages

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A group of 32 healthy men (M) divided into three different age groups, i.e. M20 years [mean 21 (SD 1); n = 12], M40 [mean 40 (SD 2); n = 10] and M70 [mean 71 (SD 5); n = 10] volunteered as subjects for examination of maximal and explosive force production of leg extensor muscles in both isometric and dynamic actions (squat jump, SJ and counter movement jump, CMJ, and standing long-jump, SLJ). The balance test was performed on a force platform in both isometric and dynamic actions. Maximal bilateral isometric force value in M70 was lower (P < 0.001) than in M40 and as much as 46% lower (P < 0.001) than that recorded in M20 (P < 0.001). The maximal rate of force development (RFD) on the force-time curve was in M70 lower (P < 0.001) than in M40 and as much as 64% lower than in M20. The heights in SJ and CMJ and the distance in SLJ in M70 were lower (P < 0.001) than in M40 and M20 (P < 0.001). In response to modifications of the visual surroundings the older subjects were 24%–47% (P < 0.05 and P < 0.001) slower in their response time in reaching the lit centre (TT) and remained 20%–34% (P < 0.001) less time inside the centre (TC) from the overall time of lighting than M40 and M20, respectively. In both older groups the individual values of isometric RFD correlated significantly (P < 0.05) with the individual balance values of TT and TC. The present results would suggest that the capacity for explosive force production declines drastically with increasing age, even more than maximal muscle strength. Aging may also lead to impaired balance with a decrease in event detection and speed of postural adjustments. The decreased ability to develop force rapidly in older people seems to be associated with a lower capacity for neuromuscular response in controlling postural sway.

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Accepted: 14 September 1998

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Izquierdo, M., Aguado, X., Gonzalez, R. et al. Maximal and explosive force production capacity and balance performance in men of different ages. Eur J Appl Physiol 79, 260–267 (1999).

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