Effects of Regular Heel-Raise Training Aimed at the Soleus Muscle on Dynamic Balance Associated With Arm Movement in Elderly Women

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Fujiwara, K, Toyama, H, Asai, H, Yaguchi, C, Irei, M, Naka, M, and Kaida, C. Effects of regular heel-raise training aimed at the soleus muscle on dynamic balance associated with arm movement in elderly women. J Strength Cond Res 25(9): 2605-2615, 2011—The effects of low-intensity muscle training with heel-raises on dynamic balance associated with bilateral arm flexion were investigated in postmenopausal elderly women. Twenty-six elderly women were evenly grouped into training and control groups. Training group subjects performed 100 heel raises per day for 2 months. The training was aimed at hypertrophy of the soleus muscle, which has a relatively high proportion (ca. 90%) of slow-twitch muscle fibers and is one of the main postural muscles. Dynamic balance was measured while arm flexion was performed in response to a visual stimulus (simple-reaction condition) or at the subjects' own pace (own-timing condition). The following parameters were compared before and after the training period: plantar flexion strength, thicknesses of the gastrocnemius and soleus (by ultrasound), reaction time of the anterior deltoid in the simple-reaction condition, activation onset timing of postural muscles with respect to the deltoid, movement angles of ankle and hip joints, and postural fluctuation. In the training group only, the following training-related effects were demonstrated: (a) increase in plantar flexor strength and thickness of the soleus, (b) shortening of the deltoid reaction time, (c) earlier activation of the erector spinae in the simple-reaction condition and the soleus in the own-timing condition, and (d) increase in ankle movement in the own-timing condition and a decrease in postural fluctuation. This heel-raise training in the elderly can increase soleus thickness within the triceps surae and improve postural control modality and stability that are effectively contributed to by the leg muscle. This training consists of a low-intensity exercise that requires neither special machines nor a specific environment and can be performed safely for all old-aged groups.

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