Oblique abdominal muscle activity in response to external perturbations when pushing a cart

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    Cyclic activation of the external and internal oblique muscles contributes to twisting moments during normal gait. During pushing while walking, it is not well understood how these muscles respond to presence of predictable (cyclic push-off forces) and unpredictable (external) perturbations that occur in pushing tasks. We hypothesized that the predictable perturbations due to the cyclic push-off forces would be associated with cyclic muscle activity, while external perturbations would be counteracted by cocontraction of the oblique abdominal muscles. Eight healthy male subjects pushed at two target forces and two handle heights in a static condition and while walking without and with external perturbations. For all pushing tasks, the median, the static (10th percentile) and the peak levels (90th percentile) of the electromyographic amplitudes were determined. Linear models with oblique abdominal EMGs and trunk angles as input were fit to the twisting moments, to estimate trunk stiffness. There was no significant difference between the static EMG levels in pushing while walking compared to the peak levels in pushing while standing. When pushing while walking, the additional dynamic activity was associated with the twisting moments, which were actively modulated by the pairs of oblique muscles as in normal gait. The median and static levels of trunk muscle activity and estimated trunk stiffness were significantly higher when perturbations occurred than without perturbations. The increase baseline of muscle activity indicated cocontraction of the antagonistic muscle pairs. Furthermore, this cocontraction resulted in an increased trunk stiffness around the longitudinal axis. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1364-1372
    JournalJournal of Biomechanics
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


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