Indexed on: 28 Sep '13Published on: 28 Sep '13Published in: Human Movement Science
Automated movements adjusting postural control may be hampered during musculoskeletal pain leaving a risk of incomplete control of balance. This study investigated the effect of experimental muscle pain on anticipatory postural adjustments by reaction task movements. While standing, nine healthy males performed two reaction time tasks (shoulder flexion of dominant side and bilateral heel lift) before, during and after experimental muscle pain. On two different days experimental pain was induced in the m. vastus medialis (VM) or the m. tibialis anterior (TA) of the dominant side by injections of hypertonic saline (1ml, 5.8%). Isotonic saline (1ml, 0.9%) was used as control injection. Electromyography (EMG) was recorded from 13 muscles. EMG onset, EMG amplitude, and kinematic parameters (shoulder and ankle joint) were extracted. During shoulder flexion and VM pain the onset of the ipsilateral biceps femoris was significantly faster than baseline and post injection sessions. During heels lift in the VM and TA pain conditions the onset of the contralateral TA was significantly faster than baseline and post injection sessions in bilateral side. VM pain significantly reduced m. quadriceps femoris activity and TA pain significantly reduced ipsilateral VM activity and TA activity during bilateral heel lift. The EMG reaction time was delayed in bilateral soleus muscles during heels lift with VM and TA pain. The faster onset of postural muscle activity during anticipatory postural adjustments may suggest a compensatory function to maintain postural control whereas the reduced postural muscle activity during APAs may indicate a pain adaptation strategy to avoid secondary damage.