The effect of plantar flexor muscle fatigue on postural control Academic Article uri icon


  • Objective Previous studies have demonstrated that ankle muscle fatigue alters postural sway. Our aim was to better understand postural control mechanisms during upright stance following plantar flexor fatigue. Method Ten healthy young volunteers, 25.7 ± 2.2 years old, were recruited. Foot center-of-pressure (CoP) displacement data were collected during narrow base upright stance and eyes closed (i.e. blindfolded) conditions. Subjects were instructed to stand upright and as still as possible on a force platform under five test conditions: (1) non-fatigue standing on firm surface; (2) non-fatigue standing on foam; (3) ankle plantar flexor fatigue, standing on firm surface; (4) ankle plantar flexor fatigue, standing on foam; and (5) upper limb fatigue, standing on firm surface. An average of the ten 30-s trials in each of five test conditions was calculated to assess the mean differences between the trials. Traditional measures of postural stability and stabilogram-diffusion analysis (SDA) parameters were analyzed. Results Traditional center of pressure parameters were affected by plantar flexor fatigue, especially in the AP direction. For the SDA parameters, plantar flexor fatigue caused significantly higher short-term diffusion coefficients, and critical displacement in both mediolateral (ML) and anteroposterior (AP) directions. Long-term postural sway was different only in the AP direction. Conclusions Localized plantar flexor fatigue caused impairment to postural control mainly in the Sagittal plane. The findings indicate that postural corrections, on average, occurred at a higher threshold of sway during plantar flexor fatigue compared to non-fatigue conditions.

publication date

  • January 1, 2011