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J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2009 Jun;19(3):521-31. doi: 10.1016/j.jelekin.2007.12.004. Epub 2008 Feb 1.

The effects of time pressure and experience on the performance of fall techniques during a fall.

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Department of Research, Development and Education, Sint Maartenskliniek, Postbus 9011, 6500 GM Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


Although the practice of fall techniques has been introduced in fall prevention programs, it is not clear whether people can apply acquired techniques during a real-life fall. It would be helpful to know the time it takes to initiate and to successfully execute such techniques, as well as the effect of experience on the execution of these techniques. In this study we investigated the neuromuscular control of voluntary fall techniques in five seasoned judokas and nine non-judokas. After they had started falling from a kneeling position, they received an auditory cue prompting either a lateral natural fall arrest (block) or a martial arts (MA) fall. EMG data of shoulder and trunk muscles were collected. The requested technique was successfully applied in 85% of the falls. Following the cue, EMG amplitudes of the fall techniques started to diverge after 180-190 ms. EMG amplitudes were generally similar in both groups, but experience-related differences could be demonstrated in the pectoralis and trapezius. In conclusion, voluntary motor control is possible within the duration of a fall, even in inexperienced fallers. Differences in EMG activity might suggest that experienced fallers changed their reaction to possible falls from a preparation for arm abduction into a preparation for trunk rotation.

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