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The Effects Of Lifting Posture On Trunk Muscle Activity

Christopher A. Hamrick, Sean Gallagher

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Trunk muscle activity of twelve healthy males with coal mining experience was examined while each subject lifted a box under various conditions. The independent variables were four levels of posture (kneeling, stooped under a 1.2 m roof, stooped under a 1.6 m roof, and standing), height to which the box was lifted (35 cm or 70 cm), and weight of the lifting box (15 kg, 20 kg, or 25 kg). The dependent variables were the peak EMG values recorded during a lift for each of eight trunk muscles (left and right erectores spinae, left and right latissimus dorsi, left and right external oblique, and left and right rectus abdominis). Posture and weight of lift significantly affected peak activity of the left and right erectores spinae, the left and right latissimus dorsi muscles, and the right external oblique muscle. The latissimus dorsi muscle activity was highest in the low stooping posture, and was lowest in the kneeling posture, while erectores spinae activity was highest in the kneeling posture and decreased as the trunk became more flexed. Thus, the muscle activity during lifting tasks is affected by restricting a worker's posture. Consequently, many lifting guidelines and recommendations currently in use may not be directly applicable to work being performed in restricted postures.