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The changes of lumbar muscle flexion–relaxation response due to laterally slanted ground surfaces

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Lifting tasks performed on uneven ground surfaces are common in outdoor industries. Previous studies have demonstrated that lifting tasks performed on laterally slanted ground surfaces influence lumbar muscle activation and trunk kinematics. In this study, the effect of laterally slanted ground surfaces on the lumbar muscle flexion–relaxation responses was investigated. Fourteen participants performed sagittal plane, trunk flexion–extension tasks on three laterally slanted ground surfaces (0° (flat ground), 15° and 30°), while lumbar muscle activities and trunk kinematics were recorded. Results showed that flexion–relaxation occurred up to 6.2° earlier among ipsilateral lumbar muscles with an increase in laterally slanted ground angle; however, the contralateral side was not affected as much. Our findings suggest that uneven ground alters the lumbar tissue load-sharing mechanism and creates unbalanced lumbar muscle activity, which may increase the risk of low back pain with repeated exposure to lifting on variable surfaces.

Practitioner Summary: Uneven ground surfaces are ubiquitous in agriculture, construction, fishing and other outdoor industries. A better understanding of the effects of laterally slanted ground surfaces on the interaction between passive and active lumbar tissues during lifting tasks could provide valuable knowledge in the design of preventive strategies for low back injuries.
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Keywords: flexion–relaxation phenomenon; laterally slanted ground; low back pain; trunk bending

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Industrial and Management Systems Engineering, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, 26506, USA

Publication date: August 1, 2013

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