This study addressed the differences in balance between genders. Our research suggested that females had better balance than males. Linear displacement of the hip indicates that the female subject had a longer stride length. Furthermore the female displayed stronger coupling between the hip and the knee as shown in the angle-angle plot. Conversely, the reduced hip flexion in the male led to a shorter stride length and a decoupling between the hip and the knee. The male, in contrast to the female, spent the majority of his time in hyperextension of the hip, suggesting that he may have been leaning back in order to maintain his balance throughout the movement.
The finding that there were gender differences in balance can be useful in many areas. If we conclude that females have better balance, this might be due to the typical activities of females when they are young. Some of the activities that females are more likely to partake in are hopscotch, jump rope, and dance. These activities may promote practicing balance. The balance difference between genders could lead to adaptations in physical education classes, perhaps incorporating more balance practice for males. Targeted exercises in balance can be used for the male population. If we can increase the amount of balance exercises used in physical education/physical activity, we may be able to increase performance in balance. The performance in balance tests has been proven to be significantly better among subjects reporting a higher level of general physical activity than in their less active counterparts. (Era et al.,1996) If we can incorporate more balance practice into general physical activity for males (by including it in physical education curriculums) this may help improve overall balance. For sports rehabilitation, perhaps training male athletes in balance will reduce the incidence of certain injuries in sports. Realizing that there is gender differences in balance might also provide cause for changing certain methods of rehabilitation.
Although this study showed many differences between the genders in the tiptoe gait cycle, the results are inconclusive. For more conclusive results, the study needs an increased number of subjects, of the same age with similar experience. Differences between genders may also have been caused by intrinsic differences that our study did not address. Repeating this study with more subjects would provide more reliability in our results. Possible things to consider for further study might be controlling for speed and stride length, making a rigid standard for posture and arm position, and analyzing different variables, such as muscle activation patterns, that may have led to the gender difference in balance.
Ekdahl, C., Jarnlo, G.B., and Andersson, S.I. (1989) Standing balance in healthy subjects: Evaluation of a quantitative test battery on a force platform. Scandinavian Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine 21(4): 187-195.
Era, P., Schroll, M., Ytting, H., Gause-Nilsson, I., Heikkinen, E., and Steen, B. (1996) Postural balance and its sensory-motor correlates in 75-year old men and women: a cross-national comparative study. Journals of Gerontology. Series A, Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences 51(2): M53-63.