Compression on the lumbar spine is 1000 N for standing and walking and is higher during lifting. Ex vivo experiments show it buckles under a vertical load of 80–100 N. Conversely, the whole lumbar spine can support physiologic compressive loads without large displacements when the load is applied along a follower path that approximates the tangent to the curve of the lumbar spine. This study utilized a two-dimensional beam–column model of the lumbar spine in the frontal plane under gravitational and active muscle loads to address the following question: Can trunk muscle activation cause the path of the internal force resultant to approximate the tangent to the spinal curve and allow the lumbar spine to support compressive loads of physiologic magnitudes? The study identified muscle activation patterns that maintained the lumbar spine model under compressive follower load, resulting in the minimization of internal shear forces and bending moments simultaneously at all lumbar levels. The internal force resultant was compressive, and the lumbar spine model, loaded in compression along the follower load path, supported compressive loads of physiologic magnitudes with minimal change in curvature in the frontal plane. Trunk muscles may coactivate to generate a follower load path and allow the ligamentous lumbar spine to support physiologic compressive loads.
A Frontal Plane Model of the Lumbar Spine Subjected to a Follower Load: Implications for the Role of Muscles
Contributed by the Bioengineering Division for publication in the JOURNAL OF BIOMECHANICAL ENGINEERING. Manuscript received by the Bioengineering Division July 14, 1999; revised manuscript received December 21, 2000. Associate Editor: V. K. Goel.
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Patwardhan, A. G., Meade, K. P., and Lee, B. (December 21, 2000). "A Frontal Plane Model of the Lumbar Spine Subjected to a Follower Load: Implications for the Role of Muscles ." ASME. J Biomech Eng. June 2001; 123(3): 212–217. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.1372699
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