The ability to increase the base of support and recover stability is limited in its generalisation for different balance perturbation tasks

J. Bosquee, J. Werth, G. Epro, T. Hulsdunker, W. Potthast, K. Meijer, R. Ellegast, K. Karamanidis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background The assessment of stability recovery performance following perturbations contributes to the determination of fall resisting skills. This study investigated the association between stability recovery performances in two perturbation tasks (lean-and-release versus tripping). Methods Healthy adults (12 young: 24 +/- 3 years; 21 middle-aged: 53 +/- 5 years; 11 old: 72 +/- 5 years) were suddenly released from a forward-inclined position attempting to recover stability with a single step. In a second task, all participants experienced a mechanically induced trip during treadmill walking. To assess dynamic stability performance, the antero-posterior margin of stability (MoS), the base of support (BoS), and the rate of increase in BoS were determined at each foot touchdown (TD) for both tasks. Results Only weak to moderate correlations in dynamic stability performance parameters were found between the two tasks (0.568 > r > 0.305, 0.001 < p < 0.04). A separation of participants according to the number of steps required to regain stability in the lean-and-release task revealed that multiple- (more than one step) compared to single-steppers showed a significantly lower MoS at TD (p = 0.003; g = 1.151), lower BoS at TD (p = 0.019; g = 0.888) and lower rate of increase in BoS until TD (p = 0.002; g = 1.212) after release. Despite these profound subgroup differences in the lean-and-release task, no differences between multiple- and single-steppers were observed in the stability recovery performance during tripping. Conclusion The results provide evidence that the ability to effectively control dynamic stability following a sudden balance disturbance in adults across a wide age range is limited in its generalisation for different perturbation tasks.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Review of Aging and Physical Activity
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021


  • Tripping
  • Falls
  • Gait perturbation
  • Reactive stepping
  • Lean-and-release test
  • Dynamic stability
  • AGE

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