Impact of low cost strength training of dorsi- and plantar flexors on balance and functional mobility in institutionalized elderly people

Authors


  • All authors designed and performed the research and contributed to manuscript redaction.

Mr Fernando Ribeiro MSc, Research Centre in Physical Activity, Health and Leisure, Faculty of Sport, Rua Dr. Plácido Costa, 91; 4200-450 Porto, Portugal. Email: fernando.silva.ribeiro@gmail.com

Abstract

Aim:  To evaluate the effects of a low cost strength training program of the dorsi- and ankle plantar flexors on muscle strength, balance and functional mobility, in elderly institutionalized subjects; and to determine the association between strength gain and balance and/or functional mobility gain.

Methods:  Forty-eight volunteers were recruited and equally divided into two groups: intervention (aged 78.44 ± 3.84 years) and control (aged 79.78 ± 3.90 years). Both groups were tested at baseline and outcome for ankle dorsi- and plantar flexors muscle strength, balance and functional mobility. The intervention group participated in a 6-week program, three-sessions-per-week, of resisted ankle dorsi- and plantar flexion exercises using elastic bands.

Results:  In the intervention group, maximal isometric dorsi- (from 8.4 ± 0.45 to 12.6 ± 0.95 kg; P ≤ 0.001) and plantar flexors strength (from 13.0 ± 0.85 to 17.5 ± 0.93 kg; P ≤ 0.001), balance (from 14.6 ± 0.54 to 22.3 ± 1.81 cm; P ≤ 0.001) and functional mobility (from 18.4 ± 0.51 to 11.0 ± 0.66 s; P ≤ 0.001) increased significantly after the 6-week strength training program. In the control group, no significant differences were detected. In the intervention group, a significant correlation between plantar flexor strength gain and balance gain was found (r = 0.826; P = 0.01).

Conclusion:  The proposed low cost strength training of dorsi- and plantar flexors improved strength, balance and functional mobility in institutionalized elderly people; moreover, the improvement in plantar flexor strength was associated with the improvement in balance.

Ancillary