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Chiropractic Research Review

Electromyography Useful for Identifying Muscle Fatigue

Lateral bend exertion of the trunk has been identified as a risk factor for injury to spinal tissues. However, little is known about the response of spinal muscles to fatigue, or the subsequent implications on spinal stability, joint loading and tissue injury.

This study challenged the trunk with a prolonged lateral bend task to observe the response of the agonist and antagonist muscles to the resulting fatigue.

Surface electromyographic activities were recorded for bilateral trunk muscles as test participants maintained a 50% maximum, voluntary, isometric, lateral bend contraction to volitional exhaustion. Fatigue resulted in a significant decrease in maximum lateral bend movement and an increase in movement variability.

The trunk responded to this prolonged, lateral bend contraction by increasing co-contraction as agonist trunk muscles fatigued. The fatigue may have compromised neural coordination, and the co-contraction perhaps served to maintain spinal stability. Surface electromyography may provide a window on muscle loading and progressive fatigue.

Potvin JR, OBrien PR. Trunk muscle co-contraction increases during fatiguing, isometric, lateral bend exertions. Possible implications for spine stability. Spine, April 1998;23(7), pp774-81.

Chiropractic Research Review

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