Sex-based differences in lifting technique under increasing load conditions: A principal component analysis

Appl Ergon. 2016 May;54:186-95. doi: 10.1016/j.apergo.2015.12.002. Epub 2016 Jan 11.


The objective of the present study was to determine if there is a sex-based difference in lifting technique across increasing-load conditions. Eleven male and 14 female participants (n = 25) with no previous history of low back disorder participated in the study. Participants completed freestyle, symmetric lifts of a box with handles from the floor to a table positioned at 50% of their height for five trials under three load conditions (10%, 20%, and 30% of their individual maximum isometric back strength). Joint kinematic data for the ankle, knee, hip, and lumbar and thoracic spine were collected using a two-camera Optotrak motion capture system. Joint angles were calculated using a three-dimensional Euler rotation sequence. Principal component analysis (PCA) and single component reconstruction were applied to assess differences in lifting technique across the entire waveforms. Thirty-two PCs were retained from the five joints and three axes in accordance with the 90% trace criterion. Repeated-measures ANOVA with a mixed design revealed no significant effect of sex for any of the PCs. This is contrary to previous research that used discrete points on the lifting curve to analyze sex-based differences, but agrees with more recent research using more complex analysis techniques. There was a significant effect of load on lifting technique for five PCs of the lower limb (PC1 of ankle flexion, knee flexion, and knee adduction, as well as PC2 and PC3 of hip flexion) (p < 0.005). However, there was no significant effect of load on the thoracic and lumbar spine. It was concluded that when load is standardized to individual back strength characteristics, males and females adopted a similar lifting technique. In addition, as load increased male and female participants changed their lifting technique in a similar manner.

Keywords: Lifting kinematics; Principal component analysis; Sex differences; Single component reconstruction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Female
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Joints / physiology
  • Kinetics
  • Lifting*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / physiology
  • Male
  • Principal Component Analysis*
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Sex Factors*
  • Task Performance and Analysis*
  • Thoracic Vertebrae / physiology
  • Weight-Bearing / physiology*
  • Young Adult