Muscle Strength of Lower Limbs as a Predictor of Postural Stability and Fear of Falling in Physically Active and Inactive Older Men and Women

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Abstract

Objectives:

The aim of this study was to analyze the strength of lower limb muscles, adjusted for potential modulating effects of physical activity, as a predictor of postural stability and the fear of falling (FoF) in older women and men.

Materials and Methods.

The study included 113 physically active and inactive persons older than 60 years (73.35 ± 7.05 years). The strength of 4 groups of lower limb muscles was determined, along with postural stability, that is, Timed Up and Go (TUG) test, Functional Reach (FR) test, and subjective FoF.

Results and Conclusions.

Shorter time to complete TUG test coexisted with the greater strength of all examined muscles (from r = −0.28 to r = −0.48), except the gastrocnemius. The results of FR test in physically active individuals correlated significantly with gastrocnemius muscle strength (r = 0.34). Subjective FoF showed statistically significant correlations with the strength of all examined muscles (from R = −0.38 to R = −0.44), as well as with the results of TUG (R = 0.45) and FR tests (R = −0.43). Physically inactive older men show a considerable decrease in quadriceps muscle and hamstring strength. The strength of these muscles is similar to that observed in physically inactive women. The strength of quadriceps muscle, hamstrings, and hip abductors is a good predictor of the results of TUG test, whereas the strength of the gastrocnemius predicts the outcome of FR test. Lesser strength of lower limb muscles and worse results of TUG and FR tests are associated with greater subjective FoF.

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