Analysis of Lumbar Spine Kinematics during Trunk Flexion and Extension Motions

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Virginia Tech


The effectiveness of exercise has been increasingly studied as exercise has been popular for the improvement of physical performance and rehabilitation of lumbar spine. A variety of exercises have been used to reduce back pain or spinal degeneration. However, there are no studies to determine effects of exercise on lumbar spine kinematics, including lumbar-pelvic coordination and instantaneous axis of rotation. The current study aimed to examine these lumbar spine kinematical changes due to exercise and therapy. We hypothesized that exercise and therapy will affect the changes of lumbar spine kinematics.

Lumbar-Pelvic motions were recorded from 86 healthy subjects while performing lifting and lowering tasks of 10% and 25% of body weight. The influence of exercise was quantified from coefficients of curve-fitting for pelvic and lumbar angles. There was a significant difference (p<0.05) for the range of lumbar motion (distribution, D) between the control group and the cardiovascular exercise group after 12-week program. However, there was no significance for lumbar-pelvic coordination, C.

A second study was performed to investigate the changes of instantaneous axis of rotation (IAR) at which trunk angle reached 25º. Results indicated that a superior-inferior location of IAR was significantly (p<0.05) modified by the cardiovascular exercise after 12 weeks, but there was no significant effectiveness of the physical therapy exercise.

Finding of lumbar spine kinematics during lifting and lowering a weight which are the most popular manual handling activities may provide great understanding of the exercise effectiveness. Future studies are recommended to assess whether the changes of lumbar spine kinematics lead to the decrease instances of lumbar spine injuries or low back pain.



Instantaneous axis of rotation, Lumbar-Pelvic Coordination, Low-Back, Lifting