Trunk Extension Strength and Muscle Activity in Standing and Kneeling Postures

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Study Design.A split-plot experimental design was used to evaluate the influence of posture, trunk angle, and rotational velocity on peak torque output and myoelectric activity during maximal trunk extension maneuvers.Objectives.To determine whether the kneeling posture alters extension torque capabilities in isometric and isokinetic exercises as compared with standing. Also, to ascertain whether recruitment of trunk muscles is modified by such a postural change.Summary of Background Data.Factors such as workplace geometry may force workers to adopt awkward or unusual postures in the performance of manual tasks. An understanding of the limitations placed on strength in unconventional working postures is crucial to the proper design of jobs.Methods.Twenty-one healthy male subjects (mean age = 36 years ± 7 SD) performed 12 trunk extension exertions in standing and kneeling postures. Isometric tests were performed at 22.5°, 45°, and 67.5° of trunk flexion. Isokinetic tests were done at three velocities: 30°/sec, 60°/sec, and 90°/sec. Electromyographic data were collected from eight trunk muscles to assess muscle recruitment under each condition. A priori orthogonal contrasts were specified for analysis of both torque and electromyographic data.Results.The kneeling posture was associated with a 15% decrease in peak torque output when contrasted with standing; however, no concomitant change in trunk muscle activity was evident. Trunk hyperflexion (isometric tests) and increasing rotational velocity (isokinetic tests) were associated with reduced torque in both postures. Trunk muscle activity was primarily affected by changes in trunk angle and velocity of contraction.Conclusions.A reduced extensor capability exists in the kneeling posture, despite equivalent trunk muscle activity. The similar activation patterns in both postures suggest that the strength deficit does not result from alterations in trunk muscle function. Rather, it may be the consequence of a reduced capability to rotate the pelvis in the kneeling posture, due to a disruption of the biomechanical linkage of the leg structures.

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