Plantar flexion strength and balance ability are considered to be crucial for avoiding falls. However, no clear relationship has been established between these two factors in elderly population. This study aimed to examine the association between plantar flexion strength and balance performance in elderly men and women. Forty-three men and 35 women aged over 65 years performed isometric plantar flexion as fast and hard as possible. From the time-torque curve, the rate of torque development in time intervals of 30, 50, 100, 150, and 200 ms from the onset of contraction was determined and normalized to peak torque. In addition, the center of pressure displacement during single-leg standing was calculated and normalized to height. When the data were collapsed over sexes, the normalized rate of torque development was negatively correlated with the normalized center of pressure displacement, except for the time interval of 200 ms. By sex, regardless of the time interval, there was a negative correlation between the normalized rate of torque development and the normalized center of pressure displacement in the elderly men but not in the elderly women. No correlation was seen between the peak torque and normalized center of pressure displacement in either pooled or separated data. The findings suggest that the capability of rapid force production rather than maximal force production of the plantar flexion is important for balance ability in elderly men, but this capability may not be relevant in elderly women.
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