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The effect of a knee support on the biomechanical response of the low back.

Shu Y; Jiang Z; Xu X; Mirka GA
J Appl Biomech 2007 Nov; 23(4):275-281
Stooping and squatting postures are seen in a number of industries (e.g., agriculture, construction) where workers must work near ground level for extended periods of time. The focus of the current research was to evaluate a knee support device designed to reduce the biomechanical loading of these postures. Ten participants performed a series of sudden loading tasks while in a semisquat posture under two conditions of knee support (no support and fully supported) and two conditions of torso flexion (45 and 60 degrees ). A weight was released into the hands of the participants who then came to steady state while maintaining the designated posture. As they performed this task, the EMG responses of the trunk extensors (multifidus and erector spinae) were collected, both during the "sudden loading" phase of the trial as well as the steady weight-holding phase of the trial. As expected, the effects of torso flexion angle showed significant decreases in the activation of the multifidus muscles with greater torso angle (indicating the initiation of the flexion-relaxation response). Interestingly, the results showed that the knee support device had no effect on the activation levels of the sampled muscles, indicating that the loss of the degree of freedom from the ankle joint during the knee support condition had no impact on trunk extensor muscle response. The a priori concern with regard to these supports was that they would tend to focus loading on the low back and therefore would not serve as a potential ergonomic solution for these stooping/semisquatting tasks. Because the results of this study did not support this concern, further development of such an intervention is underway.
Work-environment; Repetitive-work; Fatigue; Manual-lifting; Injuries; Back-injuries; Agricultural-industry; Agricultural-workers; Construction-industry; Construction-workers; Ergonomics; Musculoskeletal-system; Musculoskeletal-system-disorders
Department of Industrial Engineering, North Carolina State University, NC
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Issue of Publication
Source Name
Journal of Applied Biomechanics
Performing Organization
East Carolina University
Page last reviewed: March 3, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division