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J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2009 Aug;19(4):607-13. doi: 10.1016/j.jelekin.2008.03.004. Epub 2008 May 6.

Lumbar position sense with extreme lumbar angle.

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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Morgantown, WV, United States.


Tasks involving flexed torso postures have a high incidence of low back injuries. Changes in the ability to sense and adequately control low back motion may play a role in these injuries. Previous studies examining position sense errors of the lumbar spine with torso flexion found significant increases in error with flexion. However, there has been little research on the effect of lumbar angle. In this study, the aim of the study was to examine how position sense errors would change with torso flexion as a function of the target lumbar angle. Fifteen healthy volunteers were asked to assume three different lumbar angles (maximum, minimum and mid-range) at three different torso flexion angles. A reposition sense protocol was used to determine a subject's ability to reproduce the target lumbar angles. Reposition sense error was found to increase 69% with increased torso flexion for mid-range target curvatures. With increasing torso flexion, the increase in reposition sense errors suggests a reduction in sensation and control in the lumbar spine that may increase risk of injury. However, the reposition error was smaller at high torso flexion angles in the extreme target curvatures. Higher sensory feedback at extreme lumbar angles would be important in preventing over-extension or over-flexion. These results suggest that proprioceptive elements in structures engaged at limits (such as the ligaments and facet joints), may provide a role in sensing position at extreme lumbar angles. Sensory elements in the muscles crossing the joint may also provide increased feedback at the edges of the range of motion.

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