Effect of soft lumbar support belt on abdominal oblique muscle activity in nonimpaired adults during squat lifting

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2001 Jun;31(6):316-23. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2001.31.6.316.


Study design: A counterbalanced repeated measures design.

Objective: To determine the effect of a soft lumbar support on abdominal oblique muscle electromyography (EMG) during lifting.

Background: Use of a soft lumbar back support is a common preventive measure to reduce the incidence of back injuries. Because the abdominal oblique muscles stabilize the spine during lifting, wearing this support may alter the activity level of these muscles.

Methods and measures: Twenty nonimpaired subjects (14 women and 6 men, mean age 28.9 +/- 8.1 years) were tested using surface electrodes to record the EMG of the right abdominal oblique muscles during lifting with and without the support.

Results: A paired t test revealed a significant decrease in activity of the abdominal oblique muscles during lifting with the support (29.7 +/- 3.13 mV) compared to without it (33.3 +/- 3.05 mV). Of the 20 subjects, the 14 women showed decreased EMG amplitude during the lift with the lumbar support compared to without the support, while 5 of the men showed increased EMG amplitude with the support and 1 man showed no change.

Conclusion: This finding suggests that the soft lumbar support may play some role in the stabilization of the lumbar region during lifting.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Muscles / physiology*
  • Adult
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lifting*
  • Lumbosacral Region / physiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Therapy Modalities / instrumentation
  • Protective Devices*