The effect of walking and stationary work on the acute back pain, muscle activation, posture and postural control of older women

Marco Arkesteijn, Rhys Jones, Daniel C. Low

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Back pain is associated with activity such as walking or assembly line work that involves upper-body movement. However, no single study has explored the effect of these tasks on back pain, spinal angles and balance in an older adult female population. This study investigated changes in back pain, postural sway, upper-, lower- and full-spine angle and EMG activation of trunk muscles following 30 minutes of walking and a modified quiet standing task. Fourteen older adult females (62 ± 11yrs) with low to moderate chronic back pain were recruited as participants. Findings demonstrated that following these activities, increased acute back pain and upper-spine flexion occur although acute back pain was not clinically significant; postural control and muscle activation remained unchanged. This suggests that walking and modified quiet standing can lead to subtle acute back pain in older females that could be due to an increased upper spinal flexion rather than muscle fatigue.

Practitioner summary: Back pain and postural problems are common in older adults. Older adult female participants experienced increased back pain and greater upper-spine flexion following 30-minute walking and standing with trunk rotation, but the practical importance was less clear. However, balance was unaffected, suggesting no increase in fall risk.

Abbreviations: CBP: chronic back pain; MQS: modified quiet standing; QS: quiet standing; RPE: rating of perceived exertion; TD: trapezius descendens; TT: trapezius transversalis; TA: trapezius ascendens; ESL: erector spinae longissimus; C7: seventh cervical vertebrae; T7: seventh thoracic vertebrae; T10: tenth thoracic vertebrae; T12: twelfth thoracic vertebrae; L2: second lumbar vertebrae; S2: second sacral vertebrae; AP: anterior-posterior; ML: medial-lateral; SWAYtot: total postural sway; M: mean
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)866-876
Number of pages11
Issue number6
Early online date09 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jun 2022


  • back pain
  • posture
  • balance
  • walking
  • standing
  • Back pain


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