Supporting the upper body with the hand on the thigh reduces back loading during lifting

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When picking objects from the floor, low back pain patients often tend to support the upper body by leaning with one hand on a thigh. While this strategy may reduce back load, this has not yet been assessed, probably due to the difficulty of measuring the forces between hand and thigh.Ten healthy male subjects lifted a pencil and a crate from the floor, with four lifting techniques (free, squat, stoop and a Weight Lifters Technique (WLT)), each of which was performed with and without supporting with one hand on the thigh. A six Degrees of Freedom force transducer, with a comfortable surface to support the hand on, was mounted just above the subject's left knee. Hand forces, ground reaction forces, full body kinematics, and trunk EMG were measured. Using inverse dynamics and taking the forces between hand and thigh into account, we calculated 3D L5S1 joint moments, and subsequently estimated spine forces using an EMG-assisted trunk model.For lifting a pencil, hand support reduced average peak total moments by 17-25%, dependent on lifting technique. For crate lifting, hand support reduced total moments by 13-19% compared with one-handed lifting and by 14-26% compared to two-handed lifting. Hand support slightly increased asymmetric motions and caused a substantial increase in asymmetric moments in crate lifting. For compression forces, reductions (up to 28%) were seen in all techniques except in stoop lifts. It is concluded that leaning with a hand on the thigh can lead to substantial reductions of low back loading during lifting.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)881-889
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 11 Apr 2016


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