Postural Control: Changes with Ageing and Exercise
Authors: Zachary Crowley, Pedro Bezerra and Shi Zhou
Abstract: Postural control is one of the functional capacities that are fundamental to an independent lifestyle. Ageing is frequently accompanied by a decrease of neuromuscular capacities which are associated with increased risk of falls and morbidity. Decreased muscle strength and power associated with ageing can cause adaptations in the strategies used by the nervous system in postural control. It has been reported that there is a change from an “ankle strategy” which relies on large moments at the ankle, to a “hip strategy” which relies on moments at the hip to rotate ankle and hip joints in opposite directions. The ability to control posture can be assessed using either traditional posturography or stabilogram diffusion analysis. The traditional postural control variables are most often characterised with the measures based on the displacement of the centre-of-pressure (COP), while the stabilogram diffusion analysis summarizes the mean square COP displacement as a function of the time interval between COP comparisons. Evidence in the literature indicates that appropriate exercise has a beneficial effect on the postural control. It appears that exercises that involve coordinative balance tasks, such as balance training and Tai Chi, are most effective in delaying the age-related decline in postural control. This review provides an analysis of the current literature on control of upright stance posture, with a focus on the effects of ageing on the factors that are essential for postural control and the effects of exercise interventions for improving postural control.