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Ergonomics. 2010 Mar;53(3):385-92. doi: 10.1080/00140130903420228.

Breath control during manual free-style lifting of a maximally tolerated load.

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Department of Physical Therapy, School of Health Technology and Management, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794, USA.


Clear evidence links voluntary breath control, intra-abdominal pressure and lumbar stability. However, little is known regarding optimal breath control during manual materials handling. No studies have examined natural breath control while lifting a maximal load. Fourteen healthy subjects lifted a loaded crate from the floor to a table while respiratory flow data were collected. The loads lifted began at 10% of body weight and increased up to 50% (if tolerated) by 5% increments. Data from the minimum, moderate and maximum loads were analysed. Uniform and consistent breath holding during lifting of a maximally tolerated load did not occur. Across all three loads, frequency of inspiration was highest immediately prior to lift-off and significantly higher inspired volume occurred at lift-off of the load compared with preparation for lifting. Holding the breath does not appear to be related to lifting of a maximally tolerated load from floor to table. STATEMENT OF RELEVANCE: The findings demonstrate that consistent patterns of naturally occurring breath control during lifting of a maximal load can be identified and do not include uniform breath holding. The findings may assist in creating models for optimal breath control, which will minimise risk of injury during manual material handling tasks.

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