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Hum Mov Sci. 2017 Dec;56(Pt B):20-28. doi: 10.1016/j.humov.2017.10.010. Epub 2017 Oct 31.

Influence of anterior load carriage on lumbar muscle activation while walking in stable and unstable shoes.

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Department of Health Science and Technology, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark.
Department of Materials and Production, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark. Electronic address:


Load carriage can be harmful for workers, and alternative interventions to reduce back pain while walking and carrying loads are necessary. Unstable shoes have been used to improve balance and reduce back pain, but it is unknown whether walking wearing unstable shoes while carrying loads anteriorly causes excessive trunk extensors muscle activation. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of different shoe types and anterior load carriage on gait kinematics and lumbar electromyographic (EMG) activity. Fourteen adults that predominantly walk or stand during the work day were asked to walk with and without carrying 10% of body mass anteriorly while wearing regular walking shoes (REG) and unstable shoes (MBT). The effects of shoe type, load carriage, and shoe × load interactions on the longissimus thoracis (LT) and iliocostalis lumborum (IC) EMG, stride duration, and stride frequency were assessed. MBT shoes induced a significant increase in LT (44.4 ± 35%) and IC EMG (33.0 ± 32%, p < .005), while load carriage increased LT (58.5 ± 41%) and IC EMG (55.1 ± 32%, p < .001). No significant shoe × load interaction was found (p>.05). However, walking wearing MBT shoes while carrying loads induced a 46 ± 40% higher EMG activity compared to walking wearing MBT shoes without load carriage. No effects of shoes or load carriage were found on stride duration and stride frequency. It was concluded that walking wearing MBT shoes and carrying 10% of total body mass induced greater activation of trunk extensors muscle compared to these factors in isolation, such a combination may not influence gait patterns.


EMG; Ergonomics; Low back; Lumbar muscles; MBT shoes; Stability; Walking

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