The Effect of Falling Height on Muscle Activity and Foot Motion During Landings

J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2003 Dec;13(6):533-44. doi: 10.1016/s1050-6411(03)00059-2.


The aims of this study were: (a) to examine the effect of falling height on the kinematics of the tibiotalar, talonavicular and calcaneocuboid joints and (b) to study the influence of falling height on the muscle activity of the leg during landings. Six female gymnasts (height: 1.63 +/- 0.04 m, weight: 58.21 +/- 3.46 kg) participated in this study. All six gymnasts carried out barefoot landings, falling from 1.0, 1.5 and 2.0 m height onto a mat. Three genlocked digital high speed video cameras (250 Hz) captured the motion of the left shank and foot. Surface electromyography (EMG) was used to measure muscle activity (1000 Hz) from five muscles (gastrocnemius medialis, tibialis anterior, peroneus longus, vastus lateralis and hamstrings) of the left leg. The kinematics of the tibiotalar, talonavicular and calcaneocuboid joints were studied. The lower-leg and the foot were modelled by means of a multi-body system, comprising seven rigid bodies. The falling height does not show any influence on the kinematics neither of the tibiotalar nor of the talonavicular joints during landing. The eversion at the calcaneocuboid joint increases with increasing falling height. When augmenting falling height, the myoelectric activity of the muscles of the lower limb increases as well during the pre-activation phase as during the landing itself. The muscles of the lower extremities are capable of stabilizing the tibiotalar and the talonavicular joints actively, restricting their maximal motion by means of a higher activation before and after touchdown. Maximal eversion at the calcaneocuboid joint increases about 52% when landing from 2.0 m.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Foot / physiopathology*
  • Gymnastics*
  • Humans
  • Leg / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity