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J Biomech. 2010 Feb 10;43(3):532-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2009.09.035. Epub 2009 Nov 1.

Muscle activity during the active straight leg raise (ASLR), and the effects of a pelvic belt on the ASLR and on treadmill walking.

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Research Institute MOVE, Faculty of Human Movement Sciences, Vrije Universiteit, Van der Boechorststraat 9, 1081 BT Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Women with pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain (PPP), or athletes with groin pain, may have trouble with the active straight leg raise (ASLR), for which a pelvic belt can be beneficial. How the problems emerge, or how the belt works, remains insufficiently understood. We assessed muscle activity during ASLR, and how it changes with a pelvic belt. Healthy nulligravidae (N=17) performed the ASLR, and walked on a treadmill at increasing speeds, without and with a belt. Fine-wire electromyography (EMG) was used to record activity of the mm. psoas, iliacus and transversus abdominis, while other hip and trunk muscles were recorded with surface EMG. In ASLR, all muscles were active. In both tasks, transverse and oblique abdominal muscles were less active with the belt. In ASLR, there was more activity of the contralateral m. biceps femoris, and in treadmill walking of the m. gluteus maximus in conditions with a belt. For our interpretation, we take our starting point in the fact that hip flexors exert a forward rotating torque on the ilium. Apparently, the abdominal wall was active to prevent such forward rotation. If transverse and oblique abdominal muscles press the ilia against the sacrum (Snijders' "force closure"), the pelvis may move as one unit in the sagittal plane, and also contralateral hip extensor activity will stabilize the ipsilateral ilium. The fact that transverse and oblique abdominal muscles were less active in conditions with a pelvic belt suggests that the belt provides such "force closure", thus confirming Snijders' theory.

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