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Behav Neurosci. 2009 Apr;123(2):455-8. doi: 10.1037/a0014479.

People with chronic low back pain exhibit decreased variability in the timing of their anticipatory postural adjustments.

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Department of Rehabilitation and Movement Science, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405, USA.


Variability in the constituents of movement is fundamental to adaptive motor performance. A sustained decrease in the variability of anticipatory postural adjustments (APAs) occurs when performing cued arm raises following acute, experimentally induced low back pain (LBP; Moseley & Hodges, 2006). This observation implies that these changes in variability may also be relevant to people with chronic LBP. To confirm that this reduced variability in the timing of APAs is also evident in people with chronic LBP, the authors examined the standard deviations of electromyographic onset latencies from the bilateral internal oblique (IO) and erector spinae muscles (in relation to deltoid muscle onset) when 10 people with chronic LBP and 10 people without LBP performed 75 trials of rapid arm raises. The participants with LBP exhibited significantly less variability of their IO muscle onset latencies, confirming that the decreased variability of postural coordination that is evident following acutely induced LBP is also evident in people with chronic LBP. Thus, people with chronic LBP may be less capable of adapting their APAs to ensure postural stability during movement.

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