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Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon). 2005 Dec;20(10):1029-37. Epub 2005 Sep 9.

Co-contraction recruitment and spinal load during isometric trunk flexion and extension.

Author information

1
Musculoskeletal Biomechanics Laboratories, Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics, School of Biomedical Engineering and Science, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 219 Norris Hall (0219), Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA. Granata@VT.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Pushing and pulling tasks account for 20% of occupational low-back injury claims. Primary torso muscle groups recruited during pushing tasks include rectus abdominis and the external obliques. However, analyses suggest that antagonistic co-contraction of the paraspinal muscles is necessary to stabilize the spine during flexion exertions. The study quantified co-contraction and spinal load differences during isometric flexion and extension exertions. The goal was to provide insight into the mechanisms requiring greater co-contraction during trunk flexion exertions compared to extension exertions.

METHODS:

Electromyographic (EMG) signals were recorded from the trunk muscles of healthy volunteers during isometric trunk flexion and extension exertions. A biomechanical model was implemented to estimate total muscle force from the measured EMG and trunk moment data. A similar model estimated the muscle forces necessary to achieve equilibrium while minimizing the sum of squared muscle forces. The difference in these forces represented co-contraction. Spinal load attributed to co-contraction was computed.

RESULTS:

Average co-contraction during flexion exertions was approximately twice the value of co-contraction during extension, i.e. 28% and 13% of total muscle forces respectively. Co-contraction accounted for up to 47% of the total spinal load during flexion exertions. Consequently, spinal compression during the flexion tasks was nearly 50% greater than during extension exertions despite similar levels of trunk moment.

INTERPRETATION:

Co-contraction must be considered when evaluating spinal load during pushing exertions. Results underscore the need to consider neuromuscular control of spinal stability when evaluating the biomechanical risks.

PMID:
16154249
PMCID:
PMC1630676
DOI:
10.1016/j.clinbiomech.2005.07.006
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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