Sensitivity of body sway parameters during quiet standing to manipulation of support surface size

Authors: Sarabon Nejc 1,2, Rosker Jernej 3, Stefan Loefler 1 and Helmut Kern 1

Source: Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2010) 9, 431-438

Keywords: Balance, body sway, center of pressure, feet positioning, sensitivity


The centre of pressure (COP) movement during stance maintenance on a stable surface is commonly used to describe and evaluate static balance. The aim of our study was to test sensitivity of individual COP parameters to different stance positions which were used to address size specific changes in the support surface. Twenty-nine subjects participated in the study. They carried out three 60-second repetitions of each of the five balance tasks (parallel stance, semi-tandem stance, tandem stance, contra-tandem stance, single leg stance). Using the force plate, the monitored parameters included the total COP distance, the distance covered in antero-posterior and medio-lateral directions, the maximum oscillation amplitude in antero-posterior and medio-lateral directions, the total frequency of oscillation, as well as the frequency of oscillation in antero-posterior and medio-lateral directions. The parameters which describe the total COP distance were the most sensitive to changes in the balance task, whereas the frequency of oscillation proved to be sensitive to a slightly lesser extent. Reductions in the support surface size in each of the directions resulted in proportional changes of antero-posterior and medio- lateral directions. The frequency of oscillation did not increase evenly with the increase in the level of difficulty of the balance task, but reached a certain value, above which it did not increase. Our study revealed the monitored parameters of the COP to be sensitive to the support surface size manipulations. The results of the study provide an important source for clinical and research use of the body sway measurements.


1 Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Electrical Stimulation and Physical Rehabilitation, Vienna, Austria
2 Science and Research Center, University of Primorska, Koper, Slovenia
3 Prevention and Rehabilitation Sports Centre, Šmarješke Toplice, Slovenia