Annals of Biomedical Engineering

, Volume 45, Issue 6, pp 1511–1519 | Cite as

Activity of Erector Spinae During Trunk Forward Bending and Backward Return: The Effects of Age

  • Iman Shojaei
  • Babak Bazrgari


Electromyography (EMG)-based measures of the trunk muscles behavior have been used for objective assessment of biomechanical impairments in patients with low back pain (LBP); yet the literature on normal age-related differences in such measures is scant. A cross-sectional study was designed to assess age-related differences in activity of trunk extensors during forward bending and backward return. Sixty asymptomatic individuals were recruited to form five gender-balanced age groups between 20 and 70 years old. Participants completed two sets of trunk forward bending and backward return task using self-selected and fast motion paces. For bending and return phases of each task, the normalized lumbar flexion angles corresponding to different event times of erector spinae activity along with the peak normalized and non-normalized EMG activities of erector spinae were calculated. The mean normalized and non-normalized EMG activities of erector spinae during the entire task also were calculated. There was no age-related difference in normalized lumbar flexion angles corresponding to different event times of erector spinae activity. However, the peak normalized EMG activity during forward bending and backward return as well as the mean normalized EMG activity during the entire task were found to be larger in older vs. younger individuals. Given the suggested unreliability of normalized EMG in elders and considering that we did not find any age-related differences in non-normalized EMG activity of erector spinae, our results do not strongly support the existence of normal age-related differences in EMG profile of erector spinae during forward bending and backward return. Therefore, when interpreting EMG-based measures of trunk muscles behavior for identification of biomechanical impairment in patients with LBP, potential abnormalities in EMG activity of trunk muscles may not be attributed to patient’s age.


Aging Electromyography Erector spinae Trunk forward bending and backward return Gender Task pace 



This work was supported by an award (R21OH010195) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the CDC.


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Copyright information

© Biomedical Engineering Society 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.F. Joseph Halcomb III, M.D. Department of Biomedical EngineeringUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA

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