The contribution of the trunk neuromuscular system (TNS) to spine stability has been shown in earlier studies by characterizing changes in antagonistic activity of trunk muscles following alterations in stability demands of a task. Whether and/or how much such changes in the response of TNS to alteration in stability demand of the task alter spinal stiffness remains unclear. To address this research gap, a repeated measure study was conducted on twenty gender-balanced asymptomatic individuals to evaluate changes in trunk bending stiffness throughout the lumbar spine's range of flexion following alterations in both stability and equilibrium demands of a load holding task. Trunk bending stiffness was determined using trunk stiffness tests in upright posture on a rigid metal frame under different equilibrium and stability demands on the lower back. Increasing the stability demand by increasing the height of lifted load ∼30 cm only increased trunk bending stiffness (∼39%) over the lower range of lumbar flexion and under the low equilibrium demand condition. Similarly, increasing the equilibrium demand of the task by increasing the weight of lifted load by 3.5 kg only increased trunk bending stiffness (55%) over the low range of lumbar flexion and under the low stability demand condition. Our results suggest a non-linear relationship between changes in stability and equilibrium demands of a task and the contribution of TNS to trunk bending stiffness. Specifically, alterations in TNS response to changes in stability and equilibrium demand of a given task will increase stiffness of the trunk only if the background stiffness is low.
- Spinal stability
- Stability and equilibrium demands of a physical task
- Trunk bending stiffness
- Trunk muscle activity