Biomechanical optimization models are often used to estimate muscular and intervertebral disc forces during physical exertions. The purpose of this study was to determine whether an optimization-based biomechanical model predicts torso muscular activity of males and females equally well. The Minimum Intensity Compression (MIC) model, which has been extensively applied in industrial ergonomic task analysis, was used to estimate muscle forces for 3D moments. Participants (6 M, 6 F) performed 18 isometric exertions resisting 3D L3/L4 moments while electromyographic (EMG) activity was recorded for 8 muscles. Overall, model force estimates correlated better with male EMG activity (R2 = 0.43) than with female EMG activity (R2 = 0.33). Model force estimates of 4 muscles (LRA, RRA, REO, and RES) correlated better with male EMG activity than with female EMG. We conclude that trunk muscle forces estimated by current biomechanical modeling do not correlate equally well to male and female EMG activity. Future research needs to address validation or improvement of biomechanical trunk models for females.
M.L. McMulkin is with the Motion Analysis Lab, Shriners Hospitals for Children, 911 W. 5th Ave., Spokane, WA 99210-2472; J.C. Woldstad is with the Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering Dept., Oregon State Univ., Corvallis, OR 97331; R.E. Hughes is with the Orthopaedic Research Labs, Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109.