The effect of an abdominal belt on trunk muscle activity and intra-abdominal pressure during squat lifts

Ergonomics. 1990 Feb;33(2):147-60. doi: 10.1080/00140139008927106.


The purpose of this study was to determine whether abdominal belts such as those prescribed to industrial workers reduced trunk muscle activity and/or increased intra-abdominal pressure (IAP). In this study, six subjects lifted loads (72.7 to 90.9 kg) both with and without wearing a weightlifter belt. In addition, further trial conditions required that subjects lifted both with the breath held or continuously expiring on lifting effort. Dynamic hand loads were recorded together with intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) and abdominal, intercostal and low back EMG. Every subject demonstrated an increase in IAP when wearing the belt during both breathing conditions: 99 mmHg with no belt; 120 mmHg wearing belt (p less than 0.0001). However, it was also found that significant increases in IAP occurred (p less than 0.017) when the breath was held versus exhaling with or without the belt. One would expect that if the belt relieved either the direct compressive load on the spine or assisted IAP to produce an extensor moment then this would be reflected in diminished extensor muscle activity. Erector spinae activity tended to be lower with the breath held suggesting a reduced load on the lumbar spine although wearing a belt did not augment this reduction. In the case studies with subjects wearing an ergogenic corset designed for use by industrial manual materials handlers, perceptions of improved trunk stability were reported. However, the muscle activity and IAP results of this study during short duration lifting tasks make it difficult to justify the prescription of abdominal belts to workers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Muscles / physiology*
  • Adult
  • Ergonomics*
  • Humans
  • Lumbosacral Region
  • Male
  • Physical Exertion / physiology*
  • Pressure
  • Protective Devices*
  • Spine / physiology*