The Effect of Lower Extremity Fatigue on Balance in Dancers, Cross-Country Runners, and Non-Athlete College Students

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Maureen Dunn, Department of Kinesiology

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This study was designed to compare the effect of lower body fatigue of individuals (n=27) from different athletic backgrounds on static balance. Participants included dancers (n=8), cross-country runners (n=9) and non-athletes (n=10). It was hypothesized that the dancers would have greater balance after fatigue compared to the cross-country runners and non-athlete college students. This hypothesis was based on the dancer's physical training. Each participant was familiarized with the study methods before beginning experimental trials which included 2 identical sessions. During each session, participants performed a tandem stance balance task on a force plate for 20s with eyes opened and closed prior to cycling to fatigue on a stationary cycle ergometer. The balance tasks were then repeated. Postural sway path length (cm) and area of the 95th percentile ellipse (cm2) were assessed. Fatigue resulted in significant decreases in balance in all groups for postural sway path length (pre-eyes opened path length: 99.18±2.87 cm, post-eyes opened path length: 113.67±5.89 cm, p=0.006; pre-eyes closed path length: 161.44±9.82 cm, post-eyes closed path length: 184.87±14.71 cm, p=0.021), but not area of the 95th percentile ellipse (p>0.05). Furthermore, there were no interactions between groups, suggesting that all participants balance scores responded to fatigue similarly, and dancers did not have better balance than cross-country runners, and non-athletes as hypothesized.

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