Trunk muscle activity during pressure feedback monitoring among individuals with and without chronic low Back pain

Xin Li, Wai Leung Ambrose Lo, Song Wei Lu, Howe Liu, Ke Yu Lin, Jian Yang Lai, Le Li, Chu Huai Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Pressure biofeedback unit (PBU) is a widely used non-invasive device to assist core muscle training by providing pressure feedback. The aim this study was to compare the muscle activities of transverse abdominis (TA) and multifidus (MF) at different target pressures (50, 60 and 70 mmHg) of PBU between individuals with and without cLBP. Methods: Twenty-two patients with chronic LBP (cLBP) and 24 age matched healthy individuals were recruited. Electromyography (EMG) signals were recorded from the TA and MF muscles while the TA and MF were contracted to achieve PBU pressure value of 50, 60 and 70 mmHg in random order. The average EMG amplitude (AEMG) of 3 replicate trials was used in the analysis after normalization to %MVIC. %MVIC is defined as the mean of the three AEMG divided by the AEMG of MVIC. Two-way ANOVA was performed to assess the effects of groups (healthy and cLBP) and the three different target pressures of PBU. Independent sample t-test was conducted to compare between the two groups. Spearman's correlation analysis was performed in the cLBP group to determine potential correlations between EMG activity, NPRS and ODI. Results: The %MVIC of the TA and MF in the cLBP group were higher than the control group at each pressure value (P<0.05). During maximal voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC) of TA and MF, compared with healthy groups, cLBP subjects showed a decrease (TA mean = 47.61 μV; MF mean = 42.40 μV) in EMG amplitudes (P ≤ 0.001). The MVIC of MF was negatively correlated with Numerical Pain Rating Scale (r =-0.48, P = 0.024) and Oswestry Disability Index (r =-0.59, P = 0.004). Conclusions: We measured the trunk muscles activities at different PBU pressure values, which allows the individual to estimate trunk muscle contraction via PBU. Clinicians may be able to confer the data obtained through EMG recordings to adjust the exercise intensity of PBU training accordingly.

Original languageEnglish
Article number569
JournalBMC musculoskeletal disorders
Issue number1
StatePublished - 22 Aug 2020


  • Low back pain
  • Multifidus
  • Pressure biofeedback unit
  • Transverse abdominals


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