Relationship between limb movement speed and associated contraction of the trunk muscles

P W Hodges, C A Richardson
Ergonomics 1997, 40 (11): 1220-30
Rapid shoulder movement is preceded by contraction of the abdominal muscles to prepare the body for the expected disturbance to postural equilibrium and spinal stability provoked by the reactive forces resulting from the movement. The magnitude of the reactive forces is proportional to the inertia of the limb. The aim of the study was to investigate if changes in the reaction time latency of the abdominal muscles was associated with variation in the magnitude of the reactive forces resulting from variation in limb speed. Fifteen participants performed shoulder flexion at three different speeds (fast, natural and slow). The onset of EMG of the abdominal muscles, erector spinae and anterior deltoid (AD) was recorded using a combination of fine-wire and surface electrodes. Mean and peak velocity was recorded for each limb movement speed for five participants. The onset of transversus abdominis (TrA) EMG preceded the onset of AD in only the fast movement condition. No significant difference in reaction time latency was recorded between the fast and natural speed conditions for all muscles. The reaction time of each of the abdominal muscles relative to AD was significantly delayed with the slow movement compared to the other two speeds. The results indicate that the reaction time latency of the trunk muscles is influenced by limb inertia only with limb movement below a threshold velocity.

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