Loading along the lumbar spine as influence by speed, control, load magnitude, and handle height during pushing

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Background: Low back loading and risk associated with pushing activities have been poorly understood. Previous studies have demonstrated that increases in anterior/posterior shear forces are primarily initiated by antagonistic coactivity within the torso. Yet, few studies have considered the range of activities that might contribute to the antagonistic coactivation and subsequent spine loading. Methods: Twenty subjects were tested to examine how various physical factors might influence spine loads during pushing tasks that workers might experience in industrial settings. Load magnitude, speed of push, required control, and handle height were varied while pushing both carts and overhead suspended loads. A biologically-assisted biomechanical model was used to assess compression, anterior/posterior shear, and lateral shear over the various levels of the lumbar spine. Findings: Anterior/posterior shear loads were greatest at the upper levels of the lumbar spine and of a magnitude that would be of concern. Anterior/posterior shear was influenced by all experimental factors to varying degrees except for the nature of the load (cart vs. suspended). Interpretation: This study confirms the notion that pushing and pulling is not as simple a task as once believed since it entails a complex biomechanical activity. Spine shear forces result from a complex coactivation of trunk muscle activities and spine orientations that are influenced by several occupational factors. This study may help explain why low back pain rates in some work environments associated with lifting may not be reduced even when lifting interventions (that change the task from lifting to pushing) are employed. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.




Marras, W. S., Knapik, G. G., & Ferguson, S. (2009). Loading along the lumbar spine as influence by speed, control, load magnitude, and handle height during pushing. Clinical Biomechanics, 24(2), 155–163. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clinbiomech.2008.10.007

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