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Coordination pattern adaptability: energy cost of degenerate behaviors.
This study investigated behavioral adaptability, which could be defined as a blend between stability and flexibility of the limbs movement and their inter-limb coordination, when individuals received informational constraints. Seven expert breaststroke swimmers performed three 200-m in breaststroke at constant submaximal intensity. Each trial was performed randomly in a different coordination pattern: 'freely-chosen', 'maximal glide' and 'minimal glide'. Two underwater and four aerial cameras enabled 3D movement analysis in order to assess elbow and knee angles, elbow-knee pair coordination, intra-cyclic velocity variations of the center of mass, stroke rate and stroke length and inter-limb coordination. The energy cost of locomotion was calculated from gas exchanges and blood lactate concentration. The results showed significantly higher glide, intra-cyclic velocity variations and energy cost under 'maximal glide' compared to 'freely-chosen' instructional conditions, as well as higher reorganization of limb movement and inter-limb coordination (p<0.05). In the 'minimal glide' condition, the swimmers did not show significantly shorter glide and lower energy cost, but they exhibited significantly lower deceleration of the center of mass, as well as modified limb movement and inter-limb coordination (p<0.05). These results highlight that a variety of structural adaptations can functionally satisfy the task-goal.
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