2007 Volume 26 Issue 2 Pages 185-189
By estimating the deflection velocity from the center of foot pressure (COP), this study aims to prove that the characteristics of the backward stepping reaction in the elderly are related to the strength of the antigravity muscles. The participants in this study were 10 elderly (average age 75.6±7.6 years) and 13 young (average age 22.0±2.6 years) subjects. Using force plate analysis, we measured the shift in the deflection velocity (V-RMS) and the maximum deflection velocity (V-MAX) from the beginning of the COP movement to the onset of the stepping reaction. Furthermore, we measured the strength of the antigravity muscles using a hand-held dynamometer. We correlated the V-RMS, V-MAX, and the rate of change of the deflection velocity (MAX/RMS) with muscular strength. When compared with the young subjects, the elderly showed significantly lower values of V-RMS (p<0.05) and significantly higher values of MAX/RMS (p<0.01). Furthermore, when compared with the young subjects, the elderly showed significantly lower values of muscular strength for all muscles studied (p<0.001). We established a significant correlation between the V-RMS, MAX/RMS, and muscular strength by carrying out a regression analysis (V-RMS: gluteus maximus (r=0.50, p<0.05) and rectus abdominis (r=0.48, p<0.05); MAX/RMS: adductor magnus (r=−0.66, p<0.001) and flexor digitorum longus (r=−0.62, p<0.01)). Differences were observed in the V-RMS and MAX/RMS during the backward stepping reaction; it was proposed that these differences were related to the age and muscular strength of the subjects. Therefore, further investigations should be undertaken in order to understand the effects of aging on the stepping reaction. In other words, the change-in-support strategy, including the preparatory phase of the stepping reaction, and its relationship with muscular strength should be further investigated.