Author(s): Arjmand N, ShiraziAdl A
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Abstract To resolve the trunk redundancy to determine muscle forces, spinal loads, and stability margin in isometric forward flexion tasks, combined in vivo-numerical model studies was undertaken. It was hypothesized that the passive resistance of both the ligamentous spine and the trunk musculature plays a crucial role in equilibrium and stability of the system. Fifteen healthy males performed free isometric trunk flexions of approximately 40 degrees and approximately 65 degrees +/- loads in hands while kinematics by skin markers and EMG activity of trunk muscles by surface electrodes were measured. A novel kinematics-based approach along with a nonlinear finite element model were iteratively used to calculate muscle forces and internal loads under prescribed measured postures and loads considered in vivo. Stability margin was investigated using nonlinear, linear buckling, and perturbation analyses under various postures, loads and alterations in ligamentous stiffness. Flexion postures significantly increased activity in extensor muscles when compared with standing postures while no significant change was detected in between flexed postures. Compression at the L5-S1 substantially increased from 570 and 771 N in upright posture, respectively, for +/-180 N, to 1912 and 3308 N at approximately 40 degrees flexion, and furthermore to 2332 and 3850 N at approximately 65 degrees flexion. Passive ligamentous/muscle components resisted up to 77\% of the net moment. In flexion postures, the spinal stability substantially improved due both to greater passive stiffness and extensor muscle activities so that, under 180 N, no muscle stiffness was required to maintain stability. The co-activity of abdominal muscles and the muscle stiffness were of lesser concern to maintain stability in forward flexion tasks as compared with upright tasks. An injury to the passive system, on one hand, required a substantial compensatory increase in active muscle forces which further increased passive loads and, hence, the risk of injury and fatigue. On the other hand, it deteriorated the system stability which in turn could require greater additional muscle activation. This chain of events would place the entire trunk active-passive system at higher risks of injury, fatigue and instability.
This article was published in J Biomech
and referenced in Journal of Forensic Biomechanics