2016 Volume 240 Issue 4 Pages 287-294
Lateral ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries among the physically active subjects. Ankle inversion-eversion laxity is greater and dynamic postural control is less in women compared with men. The purpose of this study was to examine differences in postural sway and its effects on the neuromuscular activities of the ankle stabilizing muscles during the menstrual cycle in young women. Fourteen young women with regular menstrual cycles participated in this experiment. Postural sway and electromyographic signals of the lateral gastrocnemius, peroneus longus (PL), and tibialis anterior (TA) were recorded while the participants performed eight different balance tasks at ovulation and early follicular phase during one full menstrual cycle. Significantly greater postural sway in the two most difficult balance tasks was observed at ovulation compared to that in the early follicular phase (p < 0.001). A similar pattern was also observed in terms of PL activity, while TA activity was significantly greater in the most difficult balance task at ovulation. In addition, TA-PL co-contraction (TA/PL ratio) was significantly higher at ovulation compared with that in the follicular phase in the two most difficult balance tasks (p < 0.01). Young women could benefit from increased understanding of the varying neuromuscular activation patterns throughout the menstrual cycle. The results of this study suggest that health professionals should be aware of the physiological effects and the shifts in neuromuscular strategies in each menstrual cycle phase in order to prevent increased risk of lower extremity injury.