The aim of this study was to determine the effect of aging on power generation and joint coordination during a leg press, in order to increase understanding of how functional movements are affected during the aging process. 44 older and 24 younger adults performed eight sub-maximal power repetitions on a seated leg press dynamometer. Peak power and velocity (at 40% maximum resistance) were measured along with the coordination (coupling angle) of the lower limb joints using the vector coding technique. The younger adults produced significantly greater peak power than the older adults (mean ± SD; 762 W ± 245 vs 361 W ± 162, p < 0.01) and at higher peak velocities (mean ± SD; 1.37 m/s ± 0.05 vs 1.00 m/s ± 0.06, p < 0.01). The older adults produced less consistent values of peak power than younger adults, evidenced by a higher coefficient of variation (mean ± SD; 7.6% ± 5.2 vs 5.0% ± 3.0, p < 0.01), however, there was significantly less variability in the coupling angles displayed by the older adults compared to the younger adults (mean ± SD; 2.0° ± 1.1 vs 3.5° ± 2.7, p < 0.01 (ankle-knee); 1.7° ± 0.6 vs 4.1° ± 3.0, p < 0.01 (knee-hip)). The results of this study demonstrate that older adults display higher outcome variability but lower variability in technique (coordination). The more rigid movement strategies displayed by the older adults potentially reflects an increased risk of overuse injury due to repetitive demands on the same structures, or the reduced ability to respond to unexpected situations due to a lack of flexibility in joint control.
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