Purpose: One aim of this study was to find if there was a difference between balance and stability between elite level gymnasts and non-gymnasts. Another aim was to find if there was a relationship between dynamic posturographic scores associated with sway fatigue or adaptability and the ability to learn new gymnastic routines. The ultimate aim of the study was to improve gymnastic performance while reducing the probability of injury.
Methods: Computer dynamic posturography (CDP) provided stability scores, fatigability ratios and adaptation ratios in elite level gymnasts and non-gymnasts controls. Relationships between the postural integrity of gymnasts and non-gymnasts were calculated. The gymnasts were trained in a novel gymnastic routine and performance outcomes were compared to the CDP outcomes.
Results: Tests of postural stability have shown that gymnasts have greater postural stability than non-gymnasts. Gymnasts whose adaptability scores were higher were able to learn and perform new motor routines better than those with lower adaptability scores or high fatigability ratios.
Conclusions: While gymnasts have greater postural integrity than do non-gymnasts, CDP can identify individuals whose ability to perform new motor activities might be impaired. Methodology to improve functional stability not associated with the motor task may contribute to increased sports performance and decreased probability of injury.