Muscle synergies for the control of single-limb stance with and without visual information in young individuals

L. Labanca, M. Ghislieri, M. Knaflitz, G. Barone, L. Bragonzoni, V. Agostini & M. G. Benedetti
BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation


Single-limb stance is a demanding postural task featuring a high number of daily living and sporting activities. Thus, it is widely used for training and rehabilitation, as well as for balance assessment. Muscle activations around single joints have been previously described, however, it is not known which are the muscle synergies used to control posture and how they change between conditions of normal and lack of visual information.


Twenty-two healthy young participants were asked to perform a 30 s single-limb stance task in open-eyes and closed-eyes condition while standing on a force platform with the dominant limb. Muscle synergies were extracted from the electromyographical recordings of 13 muscles of the lower limb, hip, and back. The optimal number of synergies, together with the average recruitment level and balance control strategies were analyzed and compared between the open- and the closed-eyes condition.


Four major muscle synergies, two ankle-dominant synergies, one knee-dominant synergy, and one hip/back-dominant synergy were found. No differences between open- and closed-eyes conditions were found for the recruitment level, except for the hip/back synergy, which significantly decreased (p = 0.02) in the closed-eyes compared to the open-eyes condition. A significant increase (p = 0.03) of the ankle balance strategy was found in the closed-eyes compared to the open-eyes condition.


In healthy young individuals, single-limb stance is featured by four major synergies, both in open- and closed-eyes condition. Future studies should investigate muscle synergies in participants with other age groups, as well as pathological conditions.

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