Effects of changes in muscle activation level and spine and hip posture on erector spinae fiber orientation


  • This study was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, Canada.


Introduction: During lumbar flexion, the fiber orientation of the lumbar erector spinae (LES) muscle becomes oriented more along the spine compressive axis. It is unknown how changes in LES activation effect fiber orientation. Methods: Ultrasound images of LES were collected during 2 sets of experimental conditions: (1) varying levels of LES activation while lying prone; and (2) varying spine and hip angles while seated. Electromyographic activity and lumbar spine and hip angles were also recorded. Results: As LES activation increased, increases in fiber orientation (signifying increased orientation along the posterior shear axis) were found (P < 0.001). Compared with the relaxed sitting posture, decreases in fiber orientation were found with full spine flexion and combined spine and hip flexion (P < 0.001), but there were no changes with full hip flexion alone. Conclusions: Activation magnitude and spine posture both affect LES fiber orientation, thus modifying its ability to protect the spine against anterior shear forces. Muscle Nerve 51: 426–433, 2015