Stand-to-sit (StandTS) movement is an important functional activity that can be challenging for older adults due to age-related changes in neuromotor control. Although trunk flexion, eccentric contraction of the rectus femoris (RF), and coordination of RF and biceps femoris (BF) muscles are important to the StandTS task, the effects of aging on these and related outcomes are not well studied.
What are the age-related differences in trunk flexion, lower extremity muscle activation patterns, and postural stability during a StandTS task and what is the relationship between these variables?
Ten younger and ten older healthy adults performed three StandTS trials at self-selected speeds. Outcomes included peak amplitude, peak timing, burst duration, and onset latency of electromyography (EMG) activity of the RF and BF muscles, trunk flexion angle and angular velocity, whole body center of mass (CoM) displacement, center of pressure (CoP) velocity, and ground reaction force (GRF).
There were no age-related differences in weight-bearing symmetry, StandTS and trunk flexion angular velocity, or BF activity. In both groups, EMG peak timing of RF was preceded by BF. Compared to younger adults, older adults demonstrated shorter RF EMG burst duration, reduced trunk flexion, and reduced stability as indicated by the longer duration in which CoM was maintained beyond the posterior limit of base of support (BoS), greater mean anterior-posterior CoP velocity and larger standard deviation of CoM vertical acceleration during StandTS with smaller vertical GRF immediately prior to StandTS termination. Trunk flexion angle and RF EMG burst duration correlated with stability as measured by the duration in which the CoM stayed within the BoS.
Decreased trunk flexion and impaired eccentric control of the RF are associated with StandTS instability in aging and suggest the importance of including StandTS training as a part of a comprehensive balance intervention.

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