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Gait & Posture



Individuals with chronic low back pain demonstrate impaired responses to volitional and externally-generated postural perturbations that may impact stability whilst performing activities of daily living. Understanding how balance may be impaired by strategy selection is an important consideration during rehabilitation from low back pain to prevent future injurious balance loss.

Research question

This cross-sectional study explored the influence of an active pain episode on volitional movement patterns and stability during a sit-to-stand task in individuals with chronic low back pain compared to those with no low back pain history.


Thirteen participants with low back pain who were in an active flare-up and 13 without pain sat on a height-adjusted chair and performed 5 sit-to-stand movements. Sagittal plane kinematics, kinetics, and surface electromyography were used to compute neuromuscular variables across Acceleration, Transition and Deceleration phases. Stability was assessed using times to contact of body centers of mass and pressure to base of support boundaries. Independent samples t-tests were used to examine group effects, and repeated measures analyses of variance assessed within-subjects effects across movement phases.


Individuals with low back pain tended to restrict proximal joint motions through heightened muscle activity while increasing distal joint movement and distal muscle contributions. Individuals with low back pain used a greater driving force, indicated by a longer time to contact of the center of pressure, to achieve comparable center of mass stability. Individuals with low back pain may prioritize trunk restriction and stability through the sit-to-stand movement, possibly related to fear of pain or movement.


The tendency for individuals with active low back pain to restrict trunk movements may require additional effort to maintain stability. Further research should examine whether trunk restriction is related to pain-related fear of movement and whether additional cognitive resources are required to maintain movement stability.



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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Licensed to Smith College and distributed CC-BY under the Smith College Faculty Open Access Policy.


Peer reviewed accepted manuscript.



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