Longer static flexion duration elicits a neuromuscular disorder in the lumbar spine

J Appl Physiol (1985). 2004 May;96(5):2005-15. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.01190.2003. Epub 2004 Jan 23.


The objective of this study was to assess the impact of two sequential long, static, anterior lumbar flexions on the development of a neuromuscular disorder and to compare it with previously obtained data from a series of short static flexion periods of the same cumulative time (Sbriccoli P, Solomonow M, Zhou BH, Baratta RV, Lu Y, Zhu MP, and Burger EL, Muscle Nerve 29: 300-308, 2004). Static flexions with loads of 20, 40, and 60 N were applied to the lumbar spine over two 30-min periods with a 10-min rest in between. The reflex EMG activity from the multifidus muscles and supraspinous ligament displacement (creep) was recorded during the flexion periods. Creep and EMG were also monitored over 7 h of rest following the work-rest-work cycle. It was found that the creep that developed in the first 30-min flexion period did not recover completely during the following 10 min of rest, giving rise to a large cumulative creep at the end of the work-rest-work session. Spasms were frequently seen within the EMG during the static flexion. Initial and delayed hyperexcitabilities were observed in all of the preparations at any of the three loads explored during the 7-h rest period. ANOVA revealed a significant effect of time (P < 0.0001) on the postloading data. Larger loads elicited larger magnitudes of the initial and delayed hyperexcitabilities, yet were not statistically different. It was concluded that the 3:1 work-to-rest duration ratio resulted in a neuromuscular disorder, regardless of the load magnitude. The conclusions are reinforced in view of the results from a previous study using 60 min of flexion overall but at 1:1 work-to-rest ratio in which only the highest load elicited a delayed hyperexcitability (Sbriccoli et al., Muscle Nerve 29: 300-308, 2004). An optimal dose-to-duration ratio needs to be established to limit, attenuate, or prevent the adverse effects of static load on the lumbar spine while considering the loading duration as a major risk factor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / etiology*
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / physiopathology
  • Electromyography
  • Low Back Pain / diagnosis
  • Low Back Pain / etiology*
  • Low Back Pain / physiopathology
  • Lumbar Vertebrae*
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / diagnosis
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / etiology*
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Time Factors
  • Weight-Bearing*