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DOI:10.

2478/v10237-011-0020-0
Sport Science Review, vol. XIX, No. 3-4, August 2010

Postural Stability in Aerobic Gymnastics


Specific Positions

Oľga KYSELOVIČOVÁ • Erika ZEMKOVÁ

T he study compares the effect of maximal jumps and sport-specific


exercises on parameters of balance. Two balance elements (free
support vertical split and frontal split) were analyzed in a group of 8 aerobic
gymnasts (average age = 17,0 ± 1,3 years, average body height = 163,0 ±
6,9 cm, average body weight = 54,5 ± 6,12 kg, BMI 20,4 ± 1,46 kg.m-2).
The FiTRO Sway Check stabilographic system, allowing the monitoring of
horizontal movement of centre of gravity with the help of dynamometric
board, was used for assessment. Stabilographic parameter of the velocity
of the centre of pressure (mean and in antero-posterior and medio-lateral
directions) was registered at 100 Hz. The results show significant differences
in average sway length in medio-lateral and antero-posterior direction, in
both analysed difficulty elements. This indicates that balance impairment
after exercise and its readjustments to pre-exercise level depends not only on
intensity of proprioceptive stimulation but also on type of exercise.

Keywords: aerobic gymnastics, balance, postural stability.

Introduction
Stability, as a representation of body control through strenght, coordination,
and efficiency of movement, involves a complex interaction between sensory
organs, central processing, and motor elements (Foran, 2001). Maintainance of
stability is the baseline for the most of body movements. It is generally accepted
that stability is considered as a main factor infuencing the sport performance such
as biathlon (Seljunin & Fomin, 1988; Aalto et al, 1990), gymnastics (Vuillerme &
Danion & Marin, 2001), figure skating, rockenroll (Pelikan et al, 2004 ), basketball
(Perrin et al, ), tennis (Psalman & Kasa, 2001), windsurfing (Psalman, 1997)) or
sailing (Psalman & Kasa, 2001) and even small changes in post-exercise postural
stability can affect athlete’s performance.

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Postural Stability of Specific Positions

It is known that fatigue and hyperventilation induced by exercise have such


a determinental effect on postural stability depending on its type, intensity and
duration (Zemkova et al, 2005; Zemkova et al, 2008). Assessment of postural
sway response to exercise is therefore considered as an important part of
functional diagnostics of the athletes. Fatigue has been proposed as a principal
factor responsible for such an impairment of balance. However, this effect is
usually a consequence of prolonged exercise, as shown by Lepers et al. (1997),
Derave et al. (2002) and Zemkova & Hamar (2004, 2005). In fact, after short-
term, highly intensive exercise on the cycle ergometer, a level of ventilation
has been found closely correlated to sway velocity (Zemkova & Hamar, 2003)
indicating that recovery hyperventilation should be considered as an important
factor in post-exercise balance impairment. On the other hand, there is a lack
of information about how this factor influences balance. It has been found
that postural sway response to exercise depends on its type (Seliga et al, 1991),
intensity (Hoffman et al, 1992), duration (Lepers et al, 2007), form of muscle
contraction, and activation of muscle fibers (Hamar et al, 2004). As a possible
physiological mechanisms of postexercise balance impairment may be considered
fatigue, hyperventilation, deterioration of cutaneous, proprioceptive, vestibular,
and visual inputs, muscle damage, dehydration, hyperthermia, dizziness, and
so forth (Hashiba, 1998; Derave et al, 2002; Corbel et al, 2003). Such altered
postural stability after exercise may affect sport performance and/or increase
risk of injuries.

It is well known that in so called coordination sports (coordination abilities


based activities), such as rhythmic and artistic gymnastics, figure skating,
acrobatics, trampolining, etc., even small interuption of stability can effect a sport
performance. Readjustment of stability is therefore very important factor.

However, despite of more that 10- years history there is still limited
information about the effect of the specific training in aerobic gymnastics in
many aspects, in addition no research has been provided on stability as one of
the main and most significant factor in aerobic gymnastics performance.

Therefore, the purpose of the study was to compare the parameters of


balance (velocity and length) in specific aerobic gymnastics positions – balance
difficulty elements.

Material and Methods


Two balance elements (Frontal balance and Free support vertical split,)
were analysed in a group of 8 aerobic gymnasts (average age = 17,0 ± 1,3 years,
average body height = 163,0 ± 6,9 cm, average body weight = 54,5 ± 6,12 kg,

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Sport Science Review, vol. XIX, No. 3-4, August 2010

BMI 20,4 ± 1,46 kg.m-2). All of them were informed of the procedures and of
the main purpose of the study. The procedures presented were in accordance
with the ethical standards on human experimentation.

The FiTRO Sway Check stabilographic system, allowing the monitoring


of horizontal movement of centre of gravity with the help of dynamometric
board, was used for assessment (picture 3). Stabilographic parameters (the
velocity of the centre of pressure and the length of the centre of pressure in
antero-posterior and medio-lateral directions) were registered at 100 Hz. The
average of 2 min measurement was used as the test score.

Subjects were asked to stand on a dynamometric platform and perform a


specific position (Frontal balance – static balance and Free support vertical split
– dynamic balance). Velocity and length of the centre of pressure (COP) were
registered by FiTRO Sway check.

Statistical analysis. Ordinary statistical methods including average, stan-


dard deviation, and coefficient of correlation were used. A paired t-test was
employed to determine the statistical significance of the differences between
pre- and post-exercise values of the parameters of balance, a level of p < 0.05
was considered significant.

Results
The results compares stability parameters - centre of pressure velocity and
length in both medio-lateral and antero-posterior direstions.

As expected, the mean value of velocity, as a main factor of balance


and stability, was lower in Frontal balance (Figure 1). In comparison of Free
support vertical split values (a representative of dynamic balance), the examined

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Postural Stability of Specific Positions

subjest obtained better results while performing static balance element – Frontal
balance. However, the results show significant differences (p≤ 0.01) in average
sway velocity in both analysed difficulty elements.

Not surprisingly, in length parameters the examined subjects achieved


better results in antero-posterior direction, while performing the Frontal balance
(Figure 2). This findings are also supported by biomechanical analyse of this
particular element, when the centre of pressure is slightly shifted laterally.

In contrary, the centre of pressure length during Free support vertical split
showed significant differences in medio-lateral direction in comparison with
antero-posterior one (Figure 3).

Figure 1. Centre of pressure velocity mean values in specific difficulty elements


positions

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Sport Science Review, vol. XIX, No. 3-4, August 2010

Figure 2. Frontal balance mean values length of centre of pressure in both


antero-posterior and medio-lateral directions

Figure 3. Free support vertical split mean values length of centre of pressure in
both antero-posterior and medio-lateral directions

Conclusion
The results indicate that balance impairment of stability depends not only
on type of exercise (static versus dynamic balance difficulty element) but also
on performance level of the athletes. Despite of limitation of the study (the
number of participants involved) results definetely should provide additional
information on individual technique and performance level of the athletes.

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However, further studies are necessary, and such a sport-specific testing should
be recommended as well.

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Oľga KYSELOVIČOVÁ is an associated professor at Department of Gymnastics,


Faculty of Physical Education and Sports, Comenius University in Bratislava, Slova-
kia. Her lecturing and scientific activities are focused on aerobics, fitness and gymnas-
tics. She has written over 150 science papers and expert articles including 6 textbooks.
She is an international judge for aerobic gymnastics and FIG (Federation Interna-
tional of Gymnastics) Academy expert. E-mail address: okaerobics@yahoo.com

Erika ZEMKOVÁ is an associated professor at Department of Sports Kinan-


thropology, Faculty of Physical Education and Sports, Comenius University in
Bratislava, Slovakia. Her research activities are focused on elaboration methods and
sport specific norms for the evaluation of agility, anaerobic capabilities, explosive
power, and postural sway. She is an author or co-author of many scientific papers
as well as textbooks.

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