Adaptability of anticipatory postural adjustments associated with voluntary movement

World J Orthop. 2012 Jun 18;3(6):75-86. doi: 10.5312/wjo.v3.i6.75.


The control of balance is crucial for efficiently performing most of our daily motor tasks, such as those involving goal-directed arm movements or whole body displacement. The purpose of this article is twofold. Firstly, it is to recall how balance can be maintained despite the different sources of postural perturbation arising during voluntary movement. The importance of the so-called "anticipatory postural adjustments" (APA), taken as a "line of defence" against the destabilizing effect induced by a predicted perturbation, is emphasized. Secondly, it is to report the results of recent studies that questioned the adaptability of APA to various constraints imposed on the postural system. The postural constraints envisaged here are classified into biomechanical (postural stability, superimposition of motor tasks), (neuro) physiological (fatigue), temporal (time pressure) and psychological (fear of falling, emotion). Overall, the results of these studies point out the capacity of the central nervous system (CNS) to adapt the spatio-temporal features of APA to each of these constraints. However, it seems that, depending on the constraint, the "priority" of the CNS was focused on postural stability maintenance, on body protection and/or on maintenance of focal movement performance.

Keywords: Adaptability; Anticipatory postural adjustments; Balance; Biomechanics; Motor control; Voluntary movement.