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Effects of handicraft sitting postures on lower trunk muscle fatigue

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The purpose of this study was to assess trunk muscle fatigue in seated handicraft tasks using surface electromyography (sEMG) and visual analogue scale (VAS) ratings for trunk discomfort, and to assess the relationship of these responses. Twenty-three participants were randomly assigned to assumed crossed-leg and heel sitting postures for 30 min. Normalised median frequency (NMF) slopes for lumbar multifidus (LM) and internal oblique (IO) muscles and VAS ratings were recorded. Results revealed that the crossed-leg posture produced significantly steeper NMF slopes for both sides of the LM and IO muscles than heel sitting. Greater VAS ratings were found in crossed-leg sitting posture than the heel sitting posture. The NMF slopes and the VAS ratings had significant negative correlations for both postures. Findings support heel sitting in handicraft tasks over crossed-leg sitting due to greater trunk muscle fatigue and discomfort during the latter posture. Results support VAS ratings as a complementary method to sEMG for identifying trunk muscle fatigue.

Practitioner Summary: Trunk muscle fatigue in handicraft work is a potential risk for low back pain. Based on EMG and discomfort analyses, heel sitting is preferred to crossed-leg posture. Discomfort ratings are consistent with EMG measures in identifying trunk muscle fatigue in such postures.
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Keywords: body discomfort; normalised median frequency slope; surface electromyography; trunk muscle fatigue; visual analogue scale

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Physical Therapy,Khon Kaen University, Khon Kaen, Thailand 2: Back, Neck and Other Joint Pain Research Group,Khon Kaen University, Khon Kaen, Thailand 3: Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering,North Carolina State University, NC, USA 4: Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine,Khon Kaen University, Khon Kaen, Thailand

Publication date: June 1, 2012

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