Quiet standing posture in humans has often been modeled as a single inverted pendulum pivoting around the ankle joint. However, recent studies have suggested that anti-phase action between leg and trunk segments plays a significant role in stabilizing posture by reducing the acceleration of the center of mass (COM) of the body. The aim of this study is to test the hypothesis that anti-phase action is attenuated in the elderly compared to the young. The anterior-posterior movements of leg and trunk segments were measured using 4 laser displacement sensors from 22 healthy young subjects (age range, 20-35 years) and 38 healthy elderly subjects (age range, 57-80 years) standing quietly for 30. s twice. To focus on the segmental action between trunk and legs, we applied constraints (i.e., wooden splints) on each segment. We found that the velocity and acceleration of the COM (standard deviation of the time series was evaluated) were significantly higher for the elderly subjects than for young subjects. The increase in the acceleration of the COM resulted not only from an increase in the angular acceleration of the segments but also from the reduction of their anti-phase relationship, as demonstrated by an index that quantifies the degree of cancelation between both segments. We conclude that the degree of anti-phase action between trunk and leg segments during quiet standing is smaller for elderly subjects than for young subjects, and that this change of the anti-phase action due to aging resulted in increased COM acceleration in the elderly subjects.
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