Neuromechanical synergies in single-leg landing reveal changes in movement control

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Human Movement Science



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Our purpose was to examine changes in single-leg landing biomechanics and movement control following alterations in mechanical task demands via external load and landing height. We examined lower-extremity kinematic, kinetic, and electromyographic (EMG) adjustments, as well as changes in movement control from neuromechanical synergies using separate principal component analyses (PCA). Nineteen healthy volunteers (15M, 4F, age: 24.3 ± 4.9 y, mass: 78.5 ± 14.7 kg, height: 1.73 ± 0.08 m) were analyzed among 9 single-leg drop landing trials in each of 6 experimental conditions (3 load and 2 landing height) computed as percentages of subject bodyweight (BW, BW + 12.5%, BW + 25%) and height (H12.5% & H25%). Condition order was counterbalanced, including: 1.) BW·H12.5, 2.) BW + 12.5·H12.5, 3.) BW + 25·H12.5, 4.) BW·H25, 5.) BW + 12.5·H25, 6.) BW + 25·H25. Lower-extremity sagittal joint angles and moments (hip, knee, & ankle), vertical ground reaction force (GRFz), and electrical muscle activity (gluteus maximus, biceps femoris, vastus medialis, medial gastrocnemius, & tibialis anterior muscles), were analyzed in each trial. Biomechanical adjustments and neuromechanical synergies were assessed using PCA. Subjects reduced effective landing height through segmental configuration adjustments at ground contact, extending at the hip and ankle joints with greater load and landing height (p ≤ 0.028 and p ≤ 0.013, respectively), while using greater medial gastrocnemius pre-activation with greater load (p ≤ 0.006). Dimension reduction was observed under greater mechanical task demands, compressing and restructuring synergies among patterns of muscle activation, applied loads, and segmental configurations. These results provide insight into movement control and potential injury mechanisms in landing activities. © 2016 Elsevier B.V.


Gross motor; Neural; Strategy; Synergy; Variability



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