European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 93, Issue 1–2, pp 183–189 | Cite as

Effects of lumbar extensor fatigue and fatigue rate on postural sway

Original Article


Falls from heights resulting from a loss of balance are a major concern in the occupational setting. Previous studies have documented a deleterious effect of lower extremity fatigue on balance. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of lumbar extensor fatigue on balance during quiet standing. Additionally, the effects of fatigue rate on balance and balance recovery rate were assessed. Eight center-of-pressure-based measures of postural sway were collected from 13 participants, both before and after a protocol that fatigued the lumbar extensors to 60% of their unfatigued maximum voluntary exertion force. In addition, postural sway was measured for 30 min after the fatiguing protocol, at 5-min intervals, to quantify balance recovery rate during recovery from fatigue. Two different fatigue rates were achieved by fatiguing participants over either 10 min or 90 min. Results show an increase up to 58% in time-domain postural sway measures with lumbar extensor fatigue, but no change in frequency-domain measures. Fatigue rate did not affect the magnitude of these postural sway increases, nor did it affect the rate of balance recovery following fatigue. Statistical power for the latter result, however, was low. These results show that lumbar extensor fatigue increases postural sway and may contribute to fall-from-height accidents.


Balance Falls Fatigue Postural sway Spine 



The authors would like to acknowledge the financial support for this research provided by the Jeffress Memorial Trust, Richmond, Va., and also thank Matthew Runion for his work in the laboratory. The above-mentioned experimentation wholly complied with all current laws regarding the research and testing of human participants in both the United States of America and the Commonwealth of Virginia.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. S. Davidson
    • 1
  • M. L. Madigan
    • 1
    • 3
  • M. A. Nussbaum
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Engineering Science and MechanicsVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburgUSA
  2. 2.Grado Department of Industrial and Systems EngineeringVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburgUSA
  3. 3.Virginia Tech–Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering & SciencesBlacksburgUSA

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