Unexpected load and asymmetric posture as etiologic factors in low back pain

M. L. Magnusson*, A. Aleksiev, D. G. Wilder, M. H. Pope, K. Spratt, S. H. Lee, V. K. Goel, James Neil Weinstein

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    145 Scopus citations


    Unexpected loads, which often occur in the working environment, can lead to high forces in the spine and, thus, may be a cause of low back injury. This paper discusses the effect of "sudden load" on the erector spine reaction and amplitude. Muscle responses were mediated by several factors, including fatigue, posture, expectation and rehabilitation, in chronic low back pain patients. The subjects were fatigued by holding a 20% maximum voluntary contraction for 1 min. A functional restoration program was tested for its efficacy in reducing reaction time and EMG amplitude in chronic low back pain patients. Reaction time was longer and EMG amplitude lower in patients than in their matched controls. EMG reaction time and magnitude decreased in patients after a 2-week rehabilitation program, including specific training of coordination and posture control. The results of the modelling showed higher spinal compressive load and lower shear forces when the load was expected than when the load was unexpected. The effect of sudden loads can be exacerbated if a worker is not standing on a flat surface or is fatigued. Chronic low back pain patients have less ability to protect themselves from sudden loads, but they can be trained to improve their response by means of an appropriate rehabilitation program.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)23-35
    Number of pages13
    JournalEuropean Spine Journal
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Dec 1 1996


    • Low back pain
    • Muscle response
    • Posture
    • Rehabilitation
    • Sudden load

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Surgery
    • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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