The Influence of Lordosis on Axial Trunk Torque and Trunk Muscle Myoelectric Activity

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Force contributions from the facet complex and posterior ligaments during the generation of axial torque are a function of lordosis, and it has been speculated that these forces together with muscular contributions play a role in axial trunk twisting. This study investigated the electromyographic activity of the trunk musculature and torque-generating capacity of the lumbar spine under the conditions of normal lordosis, hyperlordosis, and hypolordosis. Eleven male subjects volunteered for this study. The subjects performed isometric twisting efforts and maximum dynamic twisting efforts at 30°/sec. The myoelectric activity levels (normalized to maximal amplitude obtained from nontwist activities) were quite low despite maximal efforts to generate axial torque (for example: approximately 60% maximum voluntary contraction for latissimus dorsi and even lower for the abdominals). Furthermore, changes in lordosis did not produce any consistent changes in muscle activity, although a hyperlordotic spine produced significantly smaller axial torques, and a hypolordotic spine smaller still. Larger torques were measured during all three conditions of lordosis, as the subjects rotated toward an untwisted position, and lower torques as the subjects rotated away. The opposite trend was observed, however, in myoelectric activity of the agonistic side of latissimus dorsi, the thoracic level of erector spine, and the lumbar level of erector spinae, i.e., larger amplitudes were observed as the trunk was twisted away from the untwisted position. These data suggest that tissues other than muscle (i.e., passive tissue) contribute significantly to axial torque production and that the flexed and twisted spine is less able to resist applied axial torques, possibly increasing the risk of torsional injury.

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