How does practise of internal Chinese martial arts influence postural reaction control?

  • Gorgy Olivier
  • Vercher Jean-Louis
  • Coyle Thelma

  • Postural reaction control
  • Centre of pressure
  • Centre of mass
  • Internal Chinese martial art
  • Fixed-support strategy


The aim of this study was to determine the effects of Chinese martial arts practice on postural reaction control after perturbation. Participants standing in Romberg tandem posture were subjected to an unexpected lateral platform translation with the eyes open or closed at two translation amplitudes. The peak displacement of the centre of pressure and of the centre of mass, and the onset latency of muscular activity (tibialis anterior, gastrocnemius, lumbodorsal muscular group, and rectus abdominis), were evaluated for martial arts practitioners and for sport and non-sport participants. Compared with the sport and non-sport participants, the martial arts group showed lower maximal centre of pressure and centre of mass peak displacements in both the lateral and anterior-posterior directions, but no difference was found in the onset of muscular responses. We conclude that martial arts practice influences postural reaction control during a fixed-support strategy in a tandem task. The martial arts group used the ankle joint more frequently than the sport and non-sport participants, especially in the eyes-closed conditions. Our results suggest that the better balance recovery in the martial arts group is a consequence of better control of biomechanical properties of the lower limbs (e.g. through muscular response by co-contraction), not a change in the neuromuscular temporal pattern.