The aim of the present study was to compare the effects of ankle muscle fatigue on postural control when plantarflexors (PFs) and dorsiflexors (DFs) are fatigued simultaneously compared with separately. This study also investigated the recovery of postural control after fatigue. Sixteen adults (eight women and eight men) performed postural trials before and after an isokinetic fatigue task involving either (i) only PFs (30°s(-1)), (ii) only DFs (120°s(-1)), or (iii) both PFs and DFs simultaneously. The fatigue task involved maximal contractions repeated until the torque produced decreased below 50% of the maximal torque. Postural trials lasted 30s and were performed on one leg with eyes open (EO) or eyes closed (EC). Sway area, medio-lateral (ML) and antero-posterior (AP) positions and velocities were calculated from the center of pressure displacements. With EO, no effect of fatigue was found on postural variables. With EC, sway area and AP velocity increased only when both PFs and DFs were fatigued simultaneously. An effect of fatigue present only when both muscle groups are fatigued simultaneously could be due to impairment in the compensatory activity between agonist and antagonist muscles and/or a greater decrease in proprioception due to a greater number of fatigued muscles. In addition, when PFs and DFs were fatigued simultaneously, sway area and AP velocity returned to pre-fatigue values within 2min, whereas a posterior shift in AP position persisted for 10min. This last result may suggest a longer-lasting change in postural strategy needed for optimal postural control.
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