Background Investigation of postural control in sports which require excellent postural performance, like surfing, gives insight into development of specific control strategies. The aim of the current study was to compare postural performance and strategy between young surfers of different levels of competition (international and national).
Methods Twenty surfers were separated in two groups in accordance with their competition level: Ten international level surfers (INT) (17.7±1.7 years; 172.6±8.42 cm; 65.0±10.3 kg; 7.75±3.6 surfing years) and 10 national level surfers (NAT) (15.80±1.75 years; 168.60±12.02 cm; 59.25±12.12 kg; 6.6±3.6 surfing years). Subjects performed a battery of static balance tests under three different conditions: eyes open (EO), eyes closed (EC) and while performing a concurrent cognitive task (modified stroop test -MST). All tests were performed while standing on a platform force (MuscleLab® TM system, type PFMA 4000, collection rate of 100Hz), in bipedal posture, staying as immobile as possible for 30 seconds. Based on the displacement of the center of pressure, variables analyzed were: Ellipse Area of 95% (A95), Mean Velocity (MV) and frequency analysis (fast Fourier transform). Data was tested (SPSS-v17) for normal distribution using the Shapiro-Wilk test and the U of Mann-Whitney adjustment for non-parametric data (significance level p≤0.05).
Results Both groups showed significantly greater values for MV when comparing the effect of the condition to the control test, EO vs. EC (p=0.007), and EO vs. MST (p=0.027). However, no differences were found in either of the variables when level of competition was analyzed. Although, INT showed smaller values of MV and A95 in all tests, except for A95 in the MST condition, evidencing better postural control (Palliard et al., 2006). Mean Velocity values for INT were: 17.1±3.9; 19.6±3.9; 19.5±7.2 mm/s2, and for NAT were: 18.7±3.3; 21.6±4.4; 21.2±7.2 mm/s2, for EO, EC, and MST condition, respectively. Values of A95 for INT were: 137.9 ±100.9; 148.1±58.7; 158.2 ±117.9 mm2 and for NAT were: 141.9±44.9; 260.2±209.20; 138.6±55.9 mm2, again for EO,EC and MST. In respect to the spectral analysis, INT showed a trend to use a greater portion of energy in the low frequency band in all conditions.
Conclusions Our results could indicate that experience in the surfing environment may result in specific strategy adaptation, by means of a more efficient visio-vestibular input (Chapman et al., 2008). A better understanding of these strategies can help athletic trainers and clinicians to develop exercises in an attempt to enhance performance, reduce risk of musculoskeletal injuries or for rehabilitation therapies purposes.
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