Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 98, Issue 2, pp 336–341 | Cite as

The influence of sudden perturbations on trunk muscle activity and intra-abdominal pressure while standing

  • A. G. Cresswell
  • L. Oddsson
  • A. Thorstensson
Original Paper


Unexpected ventral and dorsal perturbations and expected, self-induced ventral perturbations were delivered to the trunk by suddenly loading a vest strapped to the torso. Six male subjects were measured for intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) and intra-muscular electromyography of the transversus abdominis (TrA), obliquus internus abdominis (OI), obliquus externus abominis (OE) and rectus abdominis (RA) muscles. Erector spinae (ES) activity was recorded using surface electromyography. Displacements of the trunk and head were registered using a video-based system. Unexpected ventral loading produced activity in TrA, OI, OE and RA, and an IAP increase well in advance of activity from ES. Expected ventral loading produced pre-activation of all muscles and an increased IAP prior to the perturbation. The TrA was always the first muscle active in both the unexpected and self-loading conditions. Of the two ventral loading conditions, forward displacement of the trunk was significantly reduced during the self-loading. Unexpected dorsal loading produced coincident activation of TrA, OI, OE, RA and ES. These results indicate a response of the trunk muscles to sudden expected and unexpected ventral loadings other than the anticipated immediate extensor torque production through ES activation. It is suggested that the increase in IAP is a mechanism designed to improve the stability of the trunk through a stiffening of the whole segment.

Key words

Electromyography Abdominal Peturbation Balance Pressure Human 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Allum JHJ, Pfaltz CR (1985) Visual and vestibular contributions to pitch sway stabilization in the ankle muscles of normals and patients with bilateral peripheral vestibular deficits. Exp Brain Res 58:82–94.Google Scholar
  2. Andersson GBJ, Örtengren R, Nachemson A (1976) Quantitative studies of back loads in lifting. Spine 1:178.Google Scholar
  3. Bartelink DL (1957) The role of abdominal pressure in relieving the pressure on the lumbar vertebral disks. J Bone Joint Surg 39:718–725.Google Scholar
  4. Belen'kii VY, Gurfinkel VS, Pal'tsev YI (1967) On the elements of control of voluntary movement. Biophys J 12:154–160.Google Scholar
  5. Bouisset S, Zattara M (1981) A sequence of postural movements precedes voluntary movement. Neurosci Lett 22:263–270.Google Scholar
  6. Bouisset S, Zattara M (1990) Segmental movement as a perturbation to balance? Facts and concepts. In: Winters JM, Woo SLY (eds) Multiple muscle systems: biomechanics and movement organization. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, pp 498–506.Google Scholar
  7. Carlson H, Nilsson J, Thorstensson A, Zomlefer MR (1981) Motor responses in the human trunk due to load perturbations. Acta Physiol Scand 111:221–223.Google Scholar
  8. Cordo PJ, Nashner LM (1982) Properties of postural adjustments associated with rapid arm movements. J Neurophysiol 47:287–302.Google Scholar
  9. Cresswell AG (1993) Response of intra-abdominal pressure and abdominal muscle activity during dynamic trunk loading in man. Eur J Appl Physiol 66:315–320.Google Scholar
  10. Cresswell AG, Thorstensson A (1989) The role of the abdominal musculature in the elevation of the intra-abdominal pressure during specified tasks. Ergonomics 32:1237–1246.Google Scholar
  11. Cresswell AG, Grundström H, Thorstensson A (1992) Observations on intra-abdominal pressure and patterns of abdominal intra-muscular activity in man. Acta Physiol Scand 144:409–418.Google Scholar
  12. Diener HC, Bootz F, Dichgans J, Bruzek W (1983) Variability of postural “reflexes” in humans. Exp Brain Res 52:423–428.Google Scholar
  13. Grillner S, Nilson J, Thorstensson A (1978) Intra-abdominal pressure changes during natural movements in man. Acta Physiol Scand 103:275–283.Google Scholar
  14. Gurfinkel VS, Lipshits MI, Popov KY (1974) Is the stretch reflex the main mechanism in the system of regulation of the vertical posture of man? Biophys J 19:774–748.Google Scholar
  15. Gurfinkel VS, Lipshits MI, Lestienne FG (1988) Anticipatory neck muscle activity associated with rapid arm movements. Neurosci Lett 94:104–108.Google Scholar
  16. Hirschfeld H, Forssberg H (1992) Sensory input underlying postural reactions in sitting subjects. In: Woollacott M, Horak F (eds) Posture and gait control mechanisms, vol 1. University of Oregon Books, Oregon, pp 143–146.Google Scholar
  17. Keshner EA, Woollacott MH, Debu B (1988) Neck, trunk and limb muscle responses during postural perturbations in humans. Exp Brain Res 71:455–466.Google Scholar
  18. Kumar S (1980) Physiological responses to weight lifting in different planes. Ergonomics 23:987–993.Google Scholar
  19. Lestienne FG, Gurfinkel VS (1988) Postural control in weightlessness: a dual process underlying adaptation to an unusual environment. Trends Neurosci 11:359–363.Google Scholar
  20. Loeb GE, Gans C (1986) Design and construction of electrodes. In: Loeb GE, Gans C (eds) Electromyography for experimentalists. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 109–119.Google Scholar
  21. Massion J (1992) Movement, posture and equilibrium: interaction and coordination. Prog Neurobiol 38:35–56.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Nashner LM (1976) Adapting reflexes controlling the human posture. Exp Brain Res 26:59–72.Google Scholar
  23. Oddsson L (1989) Motor patterns of a fast voluntary postural task in man: trunk extension in standing. Acta Physiol Scand 136:47–58.Google Scholar
  24. Oddsson L (1990) Control of voluntary trunk movements in man. Acta Physiol Scand [Suppl 595] 140.Google Scholar
  25. Stålhammar HR, Leskinen TPJ, Takala EP (1987) Intra-abdominal pressure and oblique abdominal muscle activity when lifting and lowering. In: Jonsson B (eds) Biomechanics 10A. Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL pp 59–62.Google Scholar
  26. Thomson KD (1988) On the bending moment capability of the pressurized abdominal cavity during human lifting activity. Ergonomics 31:817–828.Google Scholar
  27. Woollacott MH, Hosten C von, Rösblad B (1988) Relation between muscle response onset and body segmental movements during postural perturbations in humans. Exp Brain Res 72:593–604.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. G. Cresswell
    • 1
  • L. Oddsson
    • 1
  • A. Thorstensson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of NeuroscienceKarolinska InstituteStockholmSweden

Personalised recommendations