Motor control of landing from a countermovement jump in simulated microgravity.
- Sports Medicine Research Laboratory
Landing from a jump implies proper positioning of the lower limb segments and the generation of an adequate muscular force to cope with the imminent collision with the ground. This study assesses how a hypogravitational environment affects the control of landing after a countermovement jump (CMJ). Eight participants performed submaximal CMJs on Earth (1-g condition) and in a weightlessness environment with simulated gravity conditions generated by a pull-down force (1-, 0.6-, 0.4-, and 0.2-g0 conditions). External forces applied to the body, movements of the lower limb segments, and muscular activity of six lower limb muscles were recorded. 1) All subjects were able to jump and stabilize their landing in all experimental conditions, except one subject in 0.2-g0 condition. 2) The mechanical behavior of lower limb muscles switches during landing from a stiff spring to a compliant spring associated with a damper. This is true whatever the environment, on Earth as well as in environments where sensory inputs are altered. 3) The motor control of landing in simulated 1 g0 reveals an increased "safety margin" strategy, illustrated by increased stiffness and damping coefficient compared with landing on Earth. 4) The motor command is adjusted to the task constraints: muscular activity of lower limb extensors and flexors, stiffness and damping coefficient decrease according to the decreased gravity level. Our results show that even if in daily living gravity can be perceived as a constant factor, subjects can cope with altered sensory signals, taking advantage of the remaining information (visual and/or decreased proprioceptive inputs).