Influence of low back pain and its remission on motor abundance in a low-load lifting task

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Bernard X W Liew
  • Alessandro Marco De Nunzio
  • Shraddha Srivastava
  • Deborah Falla

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences, University of Essex, Colchester, Essex, United Kingdom.
  • LUNEX International University of Health
  • 32 Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina, USA.


Having an abundance of motor solutions during movement may be advantageous for the health of musculoskeletal tissues, given greater load distribution between tissues. The aim of the present study was to understand whether motor abundance differs between people with and without low back pain (LBP) during a low-load lifting task. Motion capture with electromyography (EMG) assessment of 15 muscles was performed on 48 participants [healthy control (con) = 16, remission LBP (rLBP) = 16, current LBP (cLBP) = 16], during lifting. Non-negative matrix factorization and uncontrolled manifold analysis were performed to decompose inter-repetition variability in the temporal activity of muscle modes into goal equivalent (GEV) and non-goal equivalent (NGEV) variabilities in the control of the pelvis and trunk linear displacements. Motor abundance occurs when the ratio of GEV to NGEV exceeds zero. There were significant group differences in the temporal activity of muscle modes, such that both cLBP and rLBP individuals demonstrated greater activity of muscle modes that reflected lumbopelvic coactivation during the lifting phase compared to controls. For motor abundance, there were no significant differences between groups. Individuals with LBP, including those in remission, had similar overall motor abundance, but use different activation profiles of muscle modes than asymptomatic people during lifting.


Original languageEnglish
Article number17831
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas