Document Type


Publication Date



Study Design

Cross sectional, laboratory study.


Individuals with low back pain have impaired activation of multifidus during postural adjustments and increased activity of the erector spinae musculature during walking. However, it is unclear if these alterations in muscle activity are evident during locomotion in individuals with a history of low back pain when they are between symptomatic episodes.


To compare paraspinal muscle activity in young healthy individuals and young individuals with a history of low back pain during walking turns.


14 asymptomatic individuals with a history of low back pain and 14 controls performed 90° walking turns at both self-selected and fast speed. The duration and amplitude of activity in the deep fibers of multifidus and the lumbar and thoracic longissimus were quantified using intramuscular electromyography.


There was a significant speed by group interaction for the duration of multifidus activity (p = .013). Duration of activity increased from the self-selected to the fast locomotor speed in the controls, but decreased in the individuals with a history of low back pain (p = .003). Self-selected speed was the same in both groups (p = .719). There was a trend towards a significant association between group and the direction of change in the duration of deep multifidus activity (χ2 = .058). Duration of thoracic longissimus activity and amplitude of multifidus and thoracic longissimus activity increased similarly in both groups from the self-selected to faster speed.


Even between symptomatic episodes, young individuals with a history of low back pain demonstrated altered recruitment of the deep fibers of lumbar multifidus in response to changing locomotor speed during walking turns.


This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, volume 46, issue 5, in 2016 following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at DOI: 10.2519/jospt.2016.6230

Peer Reviewed



Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy 2016. For personal use only. No other uses without permission. All rights reserved.



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