Observation-based assessments of movement are a standard component in clinical assessment of patients with non-specific low back pain. While aberrant motion patterns can be detected visually, clinicians aren’t able to assess underlying neuromuscular strategies during these tests. The authors conducted this study with the goal of comparing coordination of the trunk and hip muscles during 2 commonly used assessments for lumbopelvic control in people with low back pain (LBP) and matched control subjects. Electromyography was recorded from hip and trunk muscles of 34 participants (17 with LBP) during performance of the Active Hip Abduction (AHAbd) and Active Straight Leg Raise (ASLR) tests. Relative muscle timing was calculated using cross-correlation. Participants with LBP demonstrated a variable strategy, while control subjects used a consistent proximal to distal activation strategy during both frontal and sagittal plane movements.
They concluded that the findings made in this study offer insight into underlying neuromuscular control during frequently used assessment tests for patients with LBP that assist in the guidance of targeted intervention approaches.