Flexion relaxation (FR) in the low back occurs when load is transferred from the spine's extensor musculature to its passive structures. This study investigated the influence of added upper body mass on low back kinetics and kinematics at the FR onset. Sixteen participants (eight male, eight female) performed standing full forward spine flexion with 0%, 15%, and 30% of their estimated upper body mass added to their shoulders. Electromyographic data were obtained from the lumbar erector spinae. Ground reaction forces and kinematic data from the lower limbs, pelvis, and spine were recorded. Extensor reaction moments (determined using a bottom-up linked segment model) and flexion angles at the FR onset were documented along with the maximum spine flexion. The angle at the FR onset increased significantly with added mass (p < 0.05). Expressing the FR onset angle as a percent of the full range of trunk flexion motion for that condition negated any differences between the added mass conditions. These findings demonstrate that low back kinetics play a role in mediating FR in the lumbar spine.

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