Spatial distribution of lumbar erector spinae muscle activity in individuals with and without chronic low back pain during a dynamic isokinetic fatiguing task

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Michail Arvanitidis
  • Nikolaos Bikinis
  • Stylianos Petrakis
  • Afroditi Gkioka
  • Dimitrios Tsimpolis

External organisations

  • University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust


BACKGROUND: Individuals with chronic low back pain (CLBP) commonly present with increased trunk muscle fatigability; typically assessed as reduced time to task failure during non-functional isometric contractions. Less is known about the specific neuromuscular responses of individuals with CLBP during dynamic fatiguing tasks. We investigate the regional alteration in muscle activation and peak torque exertion during a dynamic isokinetic fatiguing task in individuals with and without CLBP.

METHODS: Electromyography (EMG) was acquired from the lumbar erector spinae unilaterally of 11 asymptomatic controls and 12 individuals with CLBP, using high-density EMG (13 × 5 grid of electrodes). Seated in an isokinetic dynamometer, participants performed continuous cyclic trunk flexion-extension at 60o/s until volitional exhaustion.

FINDINGS: Similar levels of muscle activation and number of repetitions were observed for both groups (p > 0.05). However, the CLBP group exerted lower levels of peak torque for both flexion and extension moments (p < 0.05). The centre of lumbar erector spinae activity was shifted cranially in the CLBP group throughout the task (p < 0.05), while the control participants showed a more homogenous distribution of muscle activity.

INTERPRETATION: People with CLBP displayed altered and potentially less efficient activation of their lumbar erector spinae during a dynamic fatiguing task. Future studies should consider using high-density EMG biofeedback to optimise the spatial activation of the paraspinal musculature in people with low back pain (LBP).


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105214
JournalClinical Biomechanics
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Nov 2020