Intramuscular Myoelectric Activity and Selective Coactivation of Trunk Muscles During Lateral Flexion With and Without Load

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Study Design. Myoelectric activity of trunk muscles was measured intramuscularly in six healthy subjects as they maintained static trunk postures at 0°, 15°, and 30° of lateral bending, unloaded or holding a 20-kg load in one hand alongside the body.Objective.To determine the position and load dependency of the agonistic and antagonistic myoelectric responses of deep and superficial trunk lateral flexor muscles.Summary of Background Data. Loading of the trunk in lateral bending is associated with incidences of low back pain. The neuromotor control of muscles surrounding the spine may be decisive for its vulnerability. Earlier documentation of the activation pattern of trunk muscles, particularly those situated deeply, is incomplete.Methods.Trunk angle was measured between S1–C7 and the vertical with a protractor. Electromyographic activity was recorded unilaterally from eight trunk muscles using intramuscular fine-wire electrodes inserted under the guidance of ultrasound.Results.The electromyographic data showed that all muscles on the side contralateral to the load, except rectus abdominis, had their highest activity while loaded in the position most laterally flexed to the loaded side. The degree of bilateral coactivation was greater for the ventral than for the dorsal muscles.Conclusions.The myoelectric responses of most lumbar trunk muscles to static lateral flexion were dependent on trunk position and loading. The abdominal muscles demonstrated more coactivation than the other trunk muscles, and thus appeared to contribute more to trunk stabilization in laterally bent and loaded trunk positions.

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