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J Biomech. 1994 Aug;27(8):1077-85.

Passive tissues help the back muscles to generate extensor moments during lifting.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy, University of Bristol, U.K.


We examined the possibility that passive tissues can help the erector spinae to generate large extensor moments during lifting. One hundred and forty-nine healthy men and women participated in the study. Subjects pulled upwards with steadily increasing force on a floor-mounted load cell, while EMG activity was recorded from electrodes overlying the erector spinae at L3 and T10. Extensor moment was calculated from the load cell data, and was plotted against the full-wave rectified and averaged EMG signal. The relationship was linear with an intercept on the extensor moment axis (I) which indicated the flexion moment resisted by 'passive' (electrically silent) tissues. The dependence of I on lumbar flexion angle was studied by repeating the isometric pulls between 6 and 12 times, with the subject positioned in varying amounts of flexion, as measured by the '3-Space Isotrak'. Subjects then lifted weights of up to 20 kg from the floor, using 'stoop', 'squat' and 'freestyle' techniques, while lumbar flexion and EMG activity were recorded at 28 Hz. The isometric pulls showed that, on average, I increased from 25 Nm in lordotic postures to 120 Nm (for men) and 77 Nm (for women), in full flexion. During the lifts, peak extensor moment was generated with the lumbar spine flexed by 78-97% of the range between erect standing and full flexion.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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