Experimental studies have shown that a continuum of ankle and hip strategies is used to restore posture following an external perturbation. Postural responses can be modeled by feedback control with feedback gains that optimize a specific objective. On the one hand, feedback gains that minimize effort have been used to predict muscle activity during perturbed standing. On the other hand, hip and ankle strategies have been predicted by minimizing postural instability and deviation from upright posture. It remains unclear, however, whether and how effort minimization influences the selection of a specific postural response. We hypothesize that the relative importance of minimizing mechanical work vs. postural instability influences the strategy used to restore upright posture. This hypothesis was investigated based on experiments and predictive simulations of the postural response following a backward support surface translation. Peak hip flexion angle was significantly correlated with three experimentally determined measures of effort, i.e., mechanical work, mean muscle activity and metabolic energy. Furthermore, a continuum of ankle and hip strategies was predicted in simulation when changing the relative importance of minimizing mechanical work and postural instability, with increased weighting of mechanical work resulting in an ankle strategy. In conclusion, the combination of experimental measurements and predictive simulations of the postural response to a backward support surface translation showed that the trade-off between effort and postural instability minimization can explain the selection of a specific postural response in the continuum of potential ankle and hip strategies.
- standing balance control
- postural responses
- motor control
- Copyright © 2016 the American Physiological Society
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