The comparison of trunk muscles EMG activation between subjects with and without chronic low back pain during flexion-extension and lateral bending tasks

J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2000 Apr;10(2):79-91. doi: 10.1016/s1050-6411(99)00027-9.


The purpose of the study was to compare the electromyographic (EMG) activity of the trunk muscles between normal subjects and chronic low back pain (CLBP) patients during standardized trunk movements. Thirty-three male subjects (18 normals, 15 suffering from non specific CLBP) aged between 35 and 45 yr participated. A biomechanical analysis involving the recording of EMG signals from 12 trunk muscles, the kinematics of trunk segments and the computation of L5/S1 moments was performed. The subjects performed flexion-extension and lateral bending (left and right) tasks (three complete cycles) with and without a 12 kg load. Between group comparisons were performed on the full cycle average pattern of all biomechanical variables for each task. The reliability of EMG variables was evaluated for 10 subjects (5 normals and 5 CLBP) who performed the tasks on three different days. The reliability of EMG amplitude values was generally excellent for agonist muscles but poor to moderate for antagonists. The EMG amplitude analysis revealed significant differences between groups for some muscles (left lumbar and thoracic erector spinae). The abnormal (asymmetric) EMG patterns detected among CLBP patients were not explained by postural asymmetries.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Chronic Disease
  • Electromyography*
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology*
  • Reproducibility of Results