Lumbar posterior ligament involvement during extremely heavy lifts estimated from fluoroscopic measurements

J Biomech. 1992 Jan;25(1):17-28. doi: 10.1016/0021-9290(92)90242-s.


The mechanical role of the lumbar posterior ligaments during lifting tasks remains controversial. This study was designed to assess the ligament and disc contribution in resisting trunk flexion moment during extremely heavy lifts performed by national class powerlifters. Direct measurements of lumbar vertebrae kinematics in sagittal plane were obtained from videofluoroscopy utilizing multiple digitizing, correction for optical distortions and digital filtering. Four experienced powerlifters executed three trials, resulting in about 72 mA s of total radiation exposure. In the first trial, joint angles were measured when subjects fully flexed their spines to a point where the passive tissues resisted the flexor moment creating myoelectric silence in the extensor musculature. Next, two conventional deadlift style lifts were executed with the barbell load ranging from 183.7 to 210.9 kg. Four vertebral corners were digitized at a sampling rate of 30 Hz. The relative intervertebral joint angles, distance between the ligament attachment points, shearing and compressive displacements were calculated from a rigid body motion approach. Analysis revealed that except for one trial of one subject, they accomplished their lifts with an amount of lumbar flexion between 1.5 and 13 degrees less than they demonstrated during full flexion. Resultant ligament lengths at the beginning of the lifts ranged from 56.1 to 99.8% of their lengths when the trunk was fully flexed. It was concluded that ligaments did not strain sufficiently to contribute substantial resistance to the trunk flexion moment, relegating this responsibility to the musculature.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cineradiography
  • Electromyography
  • Fluoroscopy / methods
  • Humans
  • Intervertebral Disc / physiology
  • Ligaments / physiology*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / physiology*
  • Movement
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Muscles / physiology
  • Radiographic Image Enhancement
  • Rotation
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Video Recording
  • Weight Lifting*