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Jack P. Callaghan

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Daniel Viggiani and Jack P. Callaghan

A prolonged standing exposure can identify asymptomatic adults who have a higher risk of developing clinical low back pain later in life. Hip abductor cocontraction differences can predict low back pain development during standing exposures. This study’s purpose was to determine if hip abductor strength, fatigability, and recovery during prolonged standing were related to standing-induced low back pain. Forty young, asymptomatic adults (50% female) performed two 2-hour standing sessions; a fatiguing hip abductor exercise was performed prior to 1 of the 2 standing sessions. Hip abductor strength and surface electromyography of gluteus medius and tensor fascia latae were measured. Self-reported low back pain differentiated low back pain developing (PD) and nonpain developing (NPD) groups. The PD group hip abductors fatigued before the NPD group, with similar perceived effort and force losses. Mean power frequency decreases with fatigue were similar between pain groups for all muscles measured after the fatiguing exercise. Unlike NPDs, PDs did not recover force losses after 120 minutes of standing. Hip abductor fatigability may be related to the development of low back pain in this population.

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Samuel J. Howarth, Tyson A.C. Beach, and Jack P. Callaghan

The goal of this study was to quantify the relative contributions of each muscle group surrounding the spine to vertebral joint rotational stiffness (VJRS) during the push-up exercise. Upper-body kinematics, three-dimensional hand forces and lumbar spine postures, and 14 channels (bilaterally from rectus abdominis, external oblique, internal oblique, latissimus dorsi, thoracic erector spinae, lumbar erector spinae, and multifidus) of trunk electromyographic (EMG) activity were collected from 11 males and used as inputs to a biomechanical model that determined the individual contributions of 10 muscle groups surrounding the lumbar spine to VJRS at five lumbar vertebral joints (L1-L2 to L5-S1). On average, the abdominal muscles contributed 64.32 ± 8.50%, 86.55 ± 1.13%, and 83.84 ± 1.95% to VJRS about the flexion/extension, lateral bend, and axial twist axes, respectively. Rectus abdominis contributed 43.16 ± 3.44% to VJRS about the flexion/extension axis at each lumbar joint, and external oblique and internal oblique, respectively contributed 52.61 ± 7.73% and 62.13 ± 8.71% to VJRS about the lateral bend and axial twist axes, respectively, at all lumbar joints with the exception of L5-S1. Owing to changes in moment arm length, the external oblique and internal oblique, respectively contributed 55.89% and 50.01% to VJRS about the axial twist and lateral bend axes at L5-S1. Transversus abdominis, multifidus, and the spine extensors contributed minimally to VJRS during the push-up exercise. The push-up challenges the abdominal musculature to maintain VJRS. The orientation of the abdominal muscles suggests that each muscle primarily controls the rotational stiffness about a single axis.

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Brendan L. Pinto, Daniel Viggiani, and Jack P. Callaghan

The lumbar extensor spinae (LES) has an oblique orientation with respect to the compressive axis of the lumbar spine, allowing it to counteract anterior shear forces. This mechanical advantage is lost as spine flexion angle increases. The LES orientation can also alter over time as obliquity decreases with age and is associated with decreased strength and low back pain. However, it is unknown if LES orientation is impacted by recent exposures causing adaptations over shorter timescales. Hence, the effects of a 10-minute sustained spine flexion exposure on LES orientation, thickness, and activity were investigated. Three different submaximally flexed spine postures were observed before and after the exposure. At baseline, orientation (P < .001) and thickness (P = .004) decreased with increasingly flexed postures. After the exposure, obliquity further decreased at low (pairwise comparison P < .001) and moderately (pairwise comparison P = .008) flexed postures. Low back creep occurred, but LES thickness did not change, indicating that decreases in orientation were not solely due to changes in muscle length at a given posture. Activation did not change to counteract decreases in obliquity. These changes encompass a reduced ability to offset anterior shear forces, thus increasing the potential risk of anterior shear-related injury or pain after low back creep-generating exposures.

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Jeff M. Barrett, Colin D. McKinnon, Clark R. Dickerson, and Jack P. Callaghan

Relatively few biomechanical models exist aimed at quantifying the mechanical risk factors associated with neck pain. In addition, there is a need to validate spinal-rhythm techniques for inverse dynamics spine models. Therefore, the present investigation was 3-fold: (1) the development of a cervical spine model in OpenSim, (2) a test of a novel spinal-rhythm technique based on minimizing the potential energy in the passive tissues, and (3) comparison of an electromyographically driven approach to estimating compression and shear to other cervical spine models. The authors developed ligament force–deflection and intervertebral joint moment–angle curves from published data. The 218 Hill-type muscle elements, representing 58 muscles, were included and their passive forces validated against in vivo data. Our novel spinal-rhythm technique, based on minimizing the potential energy in the passive tissues, disproportionately assigned motion to the upper cervical spine that was not physiological. Finally, using kinematics and electromyography collected from 8 healthy male volunteers, the authors calculated the compression at C7–T1 as a function of the head–trunk Euler angles. Differences from other models varied from 25.5 to 368.1 N. These differences in forces may result in differences in model geometry, passive components, number of degrees of freedom, or objective functions.

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Jackie D. Zehr, Jessa M. Buchman-Pearle, Tyson A.C. Beach, Chad E. Gooyers, and Jack P. Callaghan

The relationship between internal loading dose and low-back injury risk during lifting is well known. However, the implications of movement parameters that influence joint loading rates—movement frequency and speed—on time-dependent spine loading responses remain less documented. This study quantified the effect of loading rate and frequency on the tolerated cumulative loading dose and its relation to joint lifespan. Thirty-two porcine spinal units were exposed to biofidelic compression loading paradigms that differed by joint compression rate (4.2 and 8.3 kN/s) and frequency (30 and 60 cycles per minute). Cyclic compression testing was applied until failure was detected or 10,800 continuous cycles were tolerated. Instantaneous weighting factors were calculated to evaluate the cumulative load and Kaplan–Meier survival probability functions were examined following nonlinear dose normalization of the cyclic lifespan. Significant reductions in cumulative compression were tolerated when spinal units were compressed at 8.3 kN/s (P < .001, 67%) and when loaded at 30 cycles per minute (P = .008, 45%). There was a positive moderate relationship between cumulative load tolerance and normalized cyclic lifespan (R 2 = .52), which was supported by joint survivorship functions. The frequency and speed of movement execution should be evaluated in parallel to loading dose for the management of low-back training exposures.

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Daniel Viggiani, Erin M. Mannen, Erika Nelson-Wong, Alexander Wong, Gary Ghiselli, Kevin B. Shelburne, Bradley S. Davidson, and Jack P. Callaghan

People developing transient low back pain during standing have altered control of their spine and hips during standing tasks, but the transfer of these responses to other tasks has not been assessed. This study used video fluoroscopy to assess lumbar spine intervertebral kinematics of people who do and do not develop standing-induced low back pain during a seated chair-tilting task. A total of 9 females and 8 males were categorized as pain developers (5 females and 3 males) or nonpain developers (4 females and 5 males) using a 2-hour standing exposure; pain developers reported transient low back pain and nonpain developers did not. Participants were imaged with sagittal plane fluoroscopy at 25 Hz while cyclically tilting their pelvises anteriorly and posteriorly on an unstable chair. Intervertebral angles, relative contributions, and anterior–posterior translations were measured for the L3/L4, L4/L5, and L5/S1 joints and compared between sexes, pain groups, joints, and tilting directions. Female pain developers experienced more extension in their L5/S1 joints in both tilting directions compared with female nonpain developers, a finding not present in males. The specificity in intervertebral kinematics to sex-pain group combinations suggests that these subgroups of pain developers and nonpain developers may implement different control strategies.

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Liana M. Tennant, Erika Nelson-Wong, Joshua Kuest, Gabriel Lawrence, Kristen Levesque, David Owens, Jeremy Prisby, Sarah Spivey, Stephanie R. Albin, Kristen Jagger, Jeff M. Barrett, James D. Wong, and Jack P. Callaghan

Spinal stiffness and mobility assessments vary between clinical and research settings, potentially hindering the understanding and treatment of low back pain. A total of 71 healthy participants were evaluated using 2 clinical assessments (posteroanterior spring and passive intervertebral motion) and 2 quantitative measures: lumped mechanical stiffness of the lumbar spine and local tissue stiffness (lumbar erector spinae and supraspinous ligament) measured via myotonometry. The authors hypothesized that clinical, mechanical, and local tissue measures would be correlated, that clinical tests would not alter mechanical stiffness, and that males would demonstrate greater lumbar stiffness than females. Clinical, lumped mechanical, and tissue stiffness were not correlated; however, gradings from the posteroanterior spring and passive intervertebral motion tests were positively correlated with each other. Clinical assessments had no effect on lumped mechanical stiffness. The males had greater lumped mechanical and lumbar erector spinae stiffness compared with the females. The lack of correlation between clinical, tissue, and lumped mechanical measures of spinal stiffness indicates that the use of the term “stiffness” by clinicians may require reevaluation; clinicians should be confident that they are not altering mechanical stiffness of the spine through segmental mobility assessments; and greater resting lumbar erector stiffness in males suggests that sex should be considered in the assessment and treatment of the low back.