Lumbar and abdominal muscle activity during walking in subjects with chronic low back pain: Support of the ''guarding'' hypothesis?

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    It has been hypothesized that changes in trunk muscle activity in chronic low back pain (CLBP) reflect an underlying “guarding��? mechanism, which will manifest itself as increased superficial abdominal – and lumbar muscle activity. During a functional task like walking, it may be further provoked at higher walking velocities. The purpose of this cross sectional study was to investigate whether subjects with CLBP show increased co-activation of superficial abdominal – and lumbar muscles during walking on a treadmill, when compared to asymptomatic controls. Sixty-three subjects with CLBP and 33 asymptomatic controls walked on a treadmill at different velocities. Surface electromyography data of the erector spinae, rectus abdominis and obliquus abdominis externus muscles were obtained and averaged per stride. Results show that, compared to asymptomatic controls, subjects with CLBP have increased muscle activity of the erector spinae and rectus abdominis, but not of the obliquus abdominis externus. These differences in trunk muscle activity between groups do not increase with higher walking velocities. In conclusion, the observed increased trunk muscle activity in subjects with CLBP during walking supports the guarding hypothesis.
    Original languageUndefined
    Article number10.1016/j.jelekin.2009.03.009
    Pages (from-to)31-38
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of electromyography and kinesiology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010


    • BSS-Biomechatronics and rehabilitation technology
    • EWI-17187
    • Chronic low back pain
    • IR-69488
    • Guarding
    • Trunk muscle activity
    • METIS-272127
    • Gait

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