Modeling the effect of variation in sagittal curvature on the force required to produce a follower load in the lumbar spine

Judith R. Meakin, Richard M. Aspden

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10 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)


The aim of this study was to investigate how the forces required to stabilize the lumbar spine in the standing posture may be affected by variation in its shape. A two-dimensional model of the lumbar spine in the sagittal plane was developed that included a simplified representation of the lumbar extensor muscles. The shape of the model was varied by changing both the magnitude and distribution of the lumbar curvature. The forces required to produce a resultant load traveling along a path as close to the vertebral body centroids as possible (a follower load) were determined. In general, the forces required to produce a follower load increased as the curvature became larger and more evenly distributed. The results suggest that the requirements of the lumbar muscles to maintain spinal stability in vivo will vary between individuals. This has implications for understanding the role of spinal curvature and muscle atrophy in back pain.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1250013
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of mechanics in medicine and biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


  • lumbar spine
  • shape
  • model
  • muscle forces
  • stability
  • follower load

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