Effects of Flywheel Training With Eccentric Overload on Standing Balance, Mobility, Physical Function, Muscle Thickness, and Muscle Quality in Older Adults
Nineteen subjects of older age were assigned to either a flywheel training group or a control group. The flywheel group underwent twice-weekly squat and calf raise exercises for 6 weeks with outcome measures assessed before and after training or a time-matched control period. Throughout the training, subjects were instructed to contract as fast as possible with maximal effort during the concentric phase and to maximally resist the pull during the eccentric phase.
The purpose of this study was to extend previous findings beyond the regular physical outcomes (i.e., timed up-and-go [TUG], STS, and postural sway) and determine the effects of a 6-week flywheel eccentric overload training program on vastus laterals (VL) and gastrocnemius medialis (GM) muscle thickness and muscle quality compared with a control group.
Few studies have investigated the effects of a practical, eccentrically biased exercise training program on balance, mobility, physical function, and muscle thickness among older adults, and none have examined muscle quality. Three important findings emerged from the present investigation:
(a) the thickness and quality of the VL and GM muscles increased considerably after 6 weeks of flywheel training
(b) the training also provoked a substantial improvement in mobility (i.e., TUG) and physical function (i.e., STS)
(c) there were marked reductions in postural sway with the EC.
Overall, they observed substantial gains in muscle thickness and muscle quality, in addition to enhanced physical function, balance, and mobility performance among older adults after flywheel training, which may have important implications for preserving the functional capacity of older adults. These findings support the efficacy of using flywheel training with eccentric overload in older adults as a means to enhance physical function, balance, mobility, muscle mass and muscle quality. Low muscle mass (1) and poor muscle quality (8) are associated with fall risk, therefore identifying exercise strategies that can limit or even reverse these losses is a priority in ageing research.