Influence of Foam Thickness On the Control of EMG Activity During a Step-Down Task In Females

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Kinesiology and Nutrition


Compliant foams can be used to mitigate ground reaction forces. However, it is unknown how foam surfaces influence the modulation of leg muscle activity. Thus, the current study aimed to investigate how the neuromuscular system managed changes in expected loading due to various thickness of foam placed on the landing surface during a step down task. The surface electromyographic signal (sEMG) pre-activation duration and the root mean square (RMS) amplitude of tibialis anterior (TA), lateral gastrocnemius (LG), and vastus medialis (VM) of 10 active females were measured as they stepped-down with a single leg onto polyurethane foam slabs of varying thickness (0–50 mm). Pre-activation duration was not affected by the thickness of the foam padding. LG RMS amplitude was less in the foam conditions than the control (no– foam) condition, with the greatest reduction observed for the 50 mm foam condition. In some trials, the muscles remained active throughout the step-down task. In such instances, a sEMG onset time and thus a pre-activation duration could not be determined. All foam conditions significantly increased the odds of continuous muscle activity above that of the no-foam condition. The results indicate that foam surfaces may alter the modulation of muscle activity during step-down tasks.

Publication Title

Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology



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