Bidirectional Causal Control in the Dynamics of Handstand Balance
Wyatt, H; Vicinanza, D; Newell, K; Irwin, G; Williams, G
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The aim of this study was to identify motor control solutions associated with the ability to maintain handstand balance. Using a novel approach, we investigated the dynamical interactions between centre of pressure (CoP) and centre of mass (CoM) motion. A gymnastics cohort was divided into a ‘less skilled’ group, who held handstands for 4–6 s, and a ‘more skilled’ group, who held handstands in excess of 10 s. CoP–CoM causality was investigated in anterior–posterior (AP) and medio-lateral (ML) directions, in addition to time–space, time–frequency and Hurst Exponent (H) analyses. Lower AP CoP to CoM causal drive and lower H values (> 0.6) indicated the more skilled gymnasts were less reliant on CoP mechanics to drive CoM motion. More skilled performance demonstrated greater adaptability through use of reactive, as opposed to anticipatory, control strategies. Skilled performers additionally exploited mechanical advantages in ML (e.g. a wider base of support), compared to the less skilled athletes. A multiple regression analysis revealed H and frequency domain measures to be better predictors of handstand balance duration than time–space domain measures. The study findings highlight the advantage of an adaptable motor control system with a directional profile, and provide new insight into the clear, measurable footprint of CoP on the dynamics of CoM.