European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 96, Issue 2, pp 146–156 | Cite as

The role of back muscle endurance, maximum force, balance and trunk rotation control regarding lifting capacity

  • Peter Schenk
  • Andreas Klipstein
  • Susanne Spillmann
  • Jesper Strøyer
  • Thomas Laubli
Original Article


Evaluation of lifting capacity is widely used as a reliable instrument in order to evaluate maximal and safe lifting capacity. This is of importance in regard to planning rehabilitation programs and determining working ability. The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of basic functions on the lifting capacity measured by the progressive isoinertial lifting evaluation (PILE) and the functional capacity evaluation (FCE) tests in a lower (floor to waist) and an upper (waist to shoulder) setting and compare the two test constructs. Seventy-four female subjects without acute low back pain underwent an examination of their lifting capacities and the following basic functions: (1) strength and endurance of trunk muscles, (2) cardiovascular endurance, (3) trunk mobility and (4) coordination ability. A linear regression model was used to predict lifting capacity by means of the above-mentioned basic functions, where the F statistics of the variables had to be significant at the 0.05 level to remain in the model. Maximal force in flexion showed significant influence on the lifting capacity in both the PILE and the FCE in the lower, as well as in the upper, lifting task. Furthermore, there was a significant influence of cardiovascular endurance on the lower PILE and also of endurance in trunk flexion on the lower FCE. Additional inclusion of individual factors (age, height, weight, body mass index) into the regression model showed a highly significant association between body height and all lifting tasks. The r 2 of the original model used was 0.19/0.18 in the lower/upper FCE and 0.35/0.26 in the lower/upper PILE. The model r 2 increased after inclusion of these individual factors to between 0.3 and 0.4. The fact that only a limited part of the variance in the lifting capacities can be explained by the basic functions analyzed in this study confirms the assumption that factors not related to the basic functions studied, such as lifting technique and motor control, may have a strong influence on lifting capacity. These results give evidence to suggest the inclusion of an evaluation of lifting capacity in clinical practice. Furthermore, they raise questions about the predictive value of strength and endurance tests in regard to lifting capacity and work ability.


Body height Endurance Gross motor coordination Lifting capacity Trunk strength 



The authors wish to thank Leanne Pobjoy for her help with the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Schenk
    • 1
  • Andreas Klipstein
    • 2
  • Susanne Spillmann
    • 2
  • Jesper Strøyer
    • 3
  • Thomas Laubli
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Hygiene and Applied PhysiologySwiss Federal Institute of Technology ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.University Hospital ZurichDepartment of Rheumatology and Institute of Physical MedicineZurichSwitzerland
  3. 3.Department of PhysiologyNational Institute of Occupational HealthCopenhagenDenmark

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