Spatial distribution of erector spinae activity is related to task-specific pain-related fear during a repetitive object lifting task

Liechti, Melanie; Von Arx, Michael Andreas; Eichelberger, Patric; Bangerter, Christian; Meier, Michael L.; Schmid, Stefan (2022). Spatial distribution of erector spinae activity is related to task-specific pain-related fear during a repetitive object lifting task Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology, 65, p. 102678. Elsevier 10.1016/j.jelekin.2022.102678

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Fear-avoidance beliefs, particularly the fear of lifting with a flexed spine, are associated with reduced spinal motion during object lifting. Low back pain patients thereby also showed potentially clinically relevant changes in the spatial distribution of back muscle activity, but it remains unknown whether such associations are also present in pain-free individuals. This cross-sectional observational study investigated the relationship between fear-avoidance beliefs and the spatial distribution of lumbar paraspinal muscle activity in pain-free individuals during a repetitive lifting task. Thirty participants completed two pain-related fear questionnaires and performed 25 repetitions of lifting a 5 kg-box from a lower to an upper shelf and back, while multi-channel electromyographic signals were recorded bilaterally from the lumbar erector spinae muscles. Changes in spatial distribution were defined as the differences in vertical position of the weighted centroids of muscle activity (centroid shift) between the first and last few repetitions. Linear regression analyses were performed to examine the relationships between centroid shift and fear-avoidance belief scores. Fear of lifting an object with a flexed spine was negatively associated with erector spinae activity centroid shift (R2 adj. = 0.1832; p = 0.045), which might be an expression of behavioral alterations to prevent the back from possible harm.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


School of Health Professions
School of Health Professions > Physiotherapy
School of Health Professions > Physiotherapy > Spinal Movement Biomechanics


Liechti, Melanie;
Von Arx, Michael Andreas0000-0003-1013-3512;
Eichelberger, Patric0000-0003-2223-6113;
Bangerter, Christian;
Meier, Michael L. and
Schmid, Stefan0000-0001-5138-9800


R Medicine > R Medicine (General)








Stefan Schmid

Date Deposited:

21 Jun 2022 16:09

Last Modified:

21 Jun 2022 16:09

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Fear-avoidance beliefs, Electromyography, multi-channel EMG, Biomechanics, Lumbar flexion




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