Variability is fundamental to biological systems and is important in posturomotor learning and control. Pain induces a protective postural strategy, although variability is normally preserved. If variability is lost, does the normal postural strategy return when pain stops? Sixteen subjects performed arm movements during control trials, when the movement evoked back pain and then when it did not. Variability in the postural strategy of the abdominal muscles and pain-related cognitions were evaluated. Only those subjects for whom pain induced a reduction in variability of the postural strategy failed to return to a normal strategy when pain stopped. They were also characterized by their pain-related cognitions. Ongoing perception of threat to the back may exert tighter evaluative control over variability of the postural strategy.
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