Neuromuscular response to cyclic lumbar twisting

Li Li, Nirav Patel, Deborah Solomonow, Peter Le, Heather Hoops, David Gerhardt, Kyle Johnson, Bing He Zhou, Yun Lu, Moshe Solomonow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: To study the influence of 10 min of cyclic twisting motion on abdominal and back muscle activities. Background: Repetitive (cyclic) occupational activity was identified by many epidemiological reports to be a risk factor for the development of work-related musculoskeletal disorders. Biomechanical and physiological confirmation, however, is lacking. Methods: Trunk muscle electromyography (EMG) was recorded while participants performed a continuous 10-min maximum lumbar cyclic twisting to the left, and maximum isometric twist to the left and right sides was measured before and after the exercise. Results: Abdominal muscles contracted symmetrically, independent of twisting direction. The left posterior muscles' integrated EMG (IEMG) decreased during the exercise, whereas the IEMG of the right posterior muscle increased. Simultaneously with increased antagonist coactivity level of the right posterior muscles after the exercise, decrease in maximal isometric left twisting torque was observed. The abdominal muscles did not exhibit any significant changes during the exercise. After the exercise, the right abdominals demonstrated a significant increase in effort, which was independent of the direction of the maximal effort isometric test. Conclusions: The change in muscle activity is attributed to neuromuscular compensation for the development of laxity and microdamage in the soft tissue (ligaments, discs, facet capsules, etc.) of the lumbar spine. Application: The results of this study increase understanding of the risk factors associated with low back disorder induced by labor-intensive occupations that involve cyclic lateral twisting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)820-829
Number of pages10
JournalHuman Factors
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Applied Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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