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Sex differences in upper limb 3D joint contributions during a lifting task

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Sex-related differences in work technique may contribute to increasing the risk of musculoskeletal joint disorders among women. In lifting tasks, sex differences have been reported for the trunk and lower limb, although women present a higher prevalence of shoulder disorders. We investigated sex differences in the upper limb technique during a lifting task. Trunk and upper limb kinematics were recorded in 27 women and 27 men lifting a box (6 or 12 kg) from hip to eye level. Work technique was quantified through the three-dimensional contribution of each joint to overall box height. The glenohumeral joint showed a higher contribution in women with a 6 kg box and wrist and elbow joints did with a 12 kg box, compared to men at either 6 or 12 kg. Sex differences occurred systematically above shoulder level. Our results argue for careful consideration of sex during ergonomic intervention, particularly during the overhead task.

Practitioner Summary: We investigated the sex-related differences in upper limb technique during lifting tasks. Results highlight a sex-specific kinematic strategy above the shoulder level on the glenohumeral joint and on the wrist and elbow joints. To help reduce women’s shoulder disorders in overhead task, ergonomic interventions should account for those differences.

Abbreviations: DoF: degree-of-freedom; WR/EL: wrist and elbow; GH: glenohumeral; SC/AC: sternoclavicular and acromioclavicular; TR/PE: pelvo-thoracic
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Keywords: Sex differences; joint contribution; lifting task; upper limb kinematics; worktechniques

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Laboratoire de Simulation et Modélisation du Mouvement, Département de Kinésiologie, Université de Montréal, Laval, Canada; 2: Institut de Recherche Robert Sauvé en Santé et Sécurité du Travail (IRSST), Montréal, Canada; 3: Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education, McGill University, Montréal, Canada

Publication date: May 4, 2019

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