Author: Peter M Wayne1,2, Brian J Gow1,2,3, Fengzhen Hou4, Yan Ma3, Jeffrey M Hausdorff5, Justine Lo6, Pamela M Rist2, Chung-Kang Peng3, Lewis A Lipsitz6,7, Vera Novak8, Brad Manor6,7
1 Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America.
2 Division of Preventive Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America.
3 Division of Interdisciplinary Medicine and Biotechnology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America.
4 Key Laboratory of Biomedical Functional Materials, School of Science, China Pharmaceutical University, Nanjing, China.
5 Center for the Study of Movement, Cognition, and Mobility, Neurological Institute, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Sagol School of Neuroscience and Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel.
6 Hinda and Arthur Marcus Institute for Aging Research, Hebrew SeniorLife, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America.
7 Division of Gerontology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America.
8 Department of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, United States of America.
Conference/Journal: PLoS One
Date published: 2021 Jan 22
Other: Volume ID: 16 , Issue ID: 1 , Pages: e0242963 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0242963. , Word Count: 323
Tai Chi (TC) mind-body exercise has been shown to reduce falls and improve balance and gait, however, few studies have evaluated the role of lower extremity muscle activation patterns in the observed benefits of TC on mobility.
To perform an exploratory analysis of the association between TC training and levels of lower extremity muscle co-contraction in healthy adults during walking under single-task (ST) and cognitive dual-task (DT) conditions.
Surface electromyography of the anterior tibialis and lateral gastrocnemius muscles was recorded during 90 sec trials of overground ST (walking normally) and DT (walking with verbalized serial subtractions) walking. A mean co-contraction index (CCI), across all strides, was calculated based on the percentage of total muscle activity when antagonist muscles were simultaneously activated. A hybrid study design investigated long-term effects of TC via a cross-sectional comparison of 27 TC experts and 60 age-matched TC-naïve older adults. A longitudinal comparison assessed the shorter-term effects of TC; TC-naïve participants were randomly allocated to either 6 months of TC training or to usual care.
Across all participants at baseline, greater CCI was correlated with slower gait speed under DT (β(95% CI) = -26.1(-48.6, -3.7)) but not ST (β(95% CI) = -15.4(-38.2, 7.4)) walking. Linear models adjusting for age, gender, BMI and other factors that differed at baseline indicated that TC experts exhibited lower CCI compared to TC naives under DT, but not ST conditions (ST: mean difference (95% CI) = -7.1(-15.2, 0.97); DT: mean difference (95% CI) = -10.1(-18.1, -2.4)). No differences were observed in CCI for TC-naive adults randomly assigned to 6 months of TC vs. usual care.
Lower extremity muscle co-contraction may play a role in the observed benefit of longer-term TC training on gait and postural control. Longer-duration and adequately powered randomized trials are needed to evaluate the effect of TC on neuromuscular coordination and its impact on postural control.
The randomized trial component of this study was registered at ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT01340365).
PMID: 33481829 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0242963