1988 Volvo award in biomechanics. The triaxial coupling of torque generation of trunk muscles during isometric exertions and the effect of fatiguing isoinertial movements on the motor output and movement patterns

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1988 Sep;13(9):982-92. doi: 10.1097/00007632-198809000-00004.


Previous studies have shown that reduction of precise motor control accompanies local muscular fatigue. The effects of isodynamic fatiguing of flexion and extension trunk movements on the movement patterns and the motor output of the trunk were investigated. Twenty male subjects with no history of low-back pain for the past 6 months volunteered for the study. A triaxial dynamometer was used that simultaneously provided measurement of torque, angular position and velocity of each axis. Resistances were set independently for each axis by an interfaced computer. The subjects performed trunk flexion and extension movement against a sagittal plane resistance equal to 70% of their maximum isometric extension strength in the upright position. The minimum resistances in the coronal and transverse planes were set up at 7 Newton meters. The subjects were asked to perform trunk movement as quickly and as accurately as possible while exerting the maximum efforts until exhaustion. Analysis of variance, the MANOVA procedure with a repeated measure design, was performed among the selected parameters of the first, middle and last three repetition cycles. The selected parameters are the trunk motor output and movement patterns; the total angular excursion, range of motion, maximum and average torque and angular velocity of the trunk. All the selected parameters were significantly reduced in the sagittal plane. Subjects displayed significantly less motor control and greater range of motion in the coronal and transverse planes in performing the primary task of flexion and extension. The reduction in the functional capacity of the primary muscles performing the required task is compensated by secondary muscle groups and the spinal structure is loaded in a more injury prone pattern, as identified by finite element models. In addition it is suggested that the fatigued muscles would be less able to compensate any perturbation in the load or position of the trunk. The repetitive loading results in a weakening of the viscoelastic passive elements of the spineless structure. The loss of ability to protect these weakened passive elements makes the spine susceptible to industrial and recreational injuries.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction*
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Movement*
  • Muscle Contraction*
  • Muscles / physiology*
  • Rotation