Effects of reactive balance training on joint health
Peart, Dakota Paul
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Falls are a major cause of mortality and morbidity among older adults. One of the major risk factors of falls is impaired neuromotor function, which can be addressed through conventional exercise programs. While beneficial for many aspects of health, conventional training does not appear to greatly reduce the incidence of falls. More recently, reactive balance training (RBT) has emerged as a task-specific exercise that is highly effective and efficient at reducing subsequent fall rates. However, little is known about the tissue-level effects that this high-impact exercise may have on the joints of participants. Overtraining by performing RBT at excessive volumes or intensities could feasibly cause damage and degradation of joint-related tissues, potentially leading to discomfort and even post-traumatic osteoarthritis. Such processes are driven by mechanisms featuring general and tissue specific signaling molecules, and also yield tissue-specific breakdown products. To explore the possibility of joint damage resulting from reactive balance training, healthy middle-aged adults performed varying amounts of RBT, and the resulting signaling responses were observed. It was found that RBT does induce a prominent biochemical response, and the nature and magnitude of the response appears to be influenced by the volume and intensity of training performed.