The association between isoinertial trunk muscle performance and low back pain in male adolescents


The literature reports inconsistent findings regarding the association between low back pain (LBP) and trunk muscle function, in both adults and children. The strength of the relationship appears to be influenced by how LBP is qualified and the means by which muscle function is measured. The aim of this study was to examine the association between isoinertial trunk muscle performance and consequential (non-trivial) low back pain (LBP) in male adolescents. Healthy male adolescents underwent anthropometric measurements, clinical evaluation, and tests of trunk range of motion (ROM), maximum isometric strength (STRENGTH) and peak movement velocity (VEL), using an isoinertial device. They provided information about their regular sporting activities, history and family history of LBP. Predictors of “relevant/consequential LBP” were examined using multivariable logistic regression. LBP status was reassessed after 2 years and the change from baseline was categorised. At baseline, 33/95 (35%) subjects reported having experienced consequential LBP. BMI, a family history of LBP, and regularly playing sport were each significantly associated with a history of consequential LBP (p < 0.05). 85/95 (89%) boys participated in the follow-up: 51 (60%) reported no LBP at either baseline or follow-up (never LBP); 5 (6%) no LBP at baseline, but LBP at follow-up (new LBP); 19 (22%) LBP at baseline, but none at follow-up; and 10 (12%) LBP at both time-points (recurrent/persistent LBP). The only distinguishing features of group membership in these small groups were: fewer sport-active in the “never LBP” group); worse trunk mobility, in the “persistent LBP” group, lower baseline sagittal ROM in the “never LBP” and “new LBP” (p < 0.05). Regular involvement in sport was a consistent predictor of LBP. Isoinertial trunk performance was not associated with LBP in adolescents.

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The project was funded by a grant from the Swiss League against Rheumatism (SLR), which supported the muscle performance tests and participants’ meal vouchers. We would like to thank the physical therapists (O. Dorthe, P. van Groenewoud, and D. Vonlanthen) who performed the tests and the secretary (C. Murith) in charge of project organization. The authors also gratefully acknowledge the volunteers; school authorities, physical education teachers, coaches and trainers for their help with subject recruitment. The authors declare that this study complies with current laws of our country inclusive of ethics approval.

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Correspondence to Federico Balagué.

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T.S. Keller: deceased.

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Balagué, F., Bibbo, E., Mélot, C. et al. The association between isoinertial trunk muscle performance and low back pain in male adolescents. Eur Spine J 19, 624–632 (2010).

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  • Muscle strength
  • Range of motion
  • Sports
  • Adolescents
  • Low back pain