A systems-level perspective of the biomechanics of the trunk flexion-extension movement: Part II – Fatigued low back conditions

Jin, Sangeun
Mirka, Gary
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Mirka, Gary
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Our companion paper demonstrated the importance of a systems-level perspective on spine biomechanics by showing the effects of lower extremity constraints during simple, trunk flexion-extension motions. This paper explores the impact of trunk muscle fatigue and stress-relaxation of lumbar passive tissues on this systems-level response. Twelve participants performed experimental protocols to achieve lumbar passive tissue stress-relaxation fatigue and lumbar muscle fatigue. Participants performed full range of sagittal-plane trunk flexion-extension under unconstrained stoop movement and pelvic/lower extremity constrained stoop movement. They performed these motions both before and after the fatigue protocols and trunk kinematics and muscle activities in trunk and lower extremity muscles were monitored. Under the condition of passive tissue fatigue, low back muscles and lower extremity muscles revealed significantly increased activation level (21% and 22%, respectively) in the free stoop condition but under the restricted stoop condition, there was no significant effect of the protocol. Under the lumbar muscle fatigue condition, a significant antagonistic and lower extremity activation effect (34% increase in abdominal muscles, 16% increase in lower extremity muscles) was observed in the free stooping condition while these variables were not affected by the protocol under the restricted stooping condition.

Relevance to industry

Fatigue of the lumbar musculature and passive tissues is prevalent in jobs requiring full trunk flexion postures. Developing accurate biomechanical models of spinal stress in these full stooping postures can help in the development of appropriate interventions to reduce the prevalence of back injuries in these jobs.


This is a manuscript of an article from International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, 46: 1-6, (DOI:10.1016/j.ergon.2015.01.007). © 2015. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

passive tissue elongation, muscle fatigue, low back stability, flexion relaxation phenomenon