Breathing control in Low Back Pain (LBP) patients during a
simple physical task.
Publication Information: Lamberg EM & Hagins M. The effects of low back pain on breath control during a lowering task. Eur J Appl Physiol 2012;
Summary: The relevance of breathing patterns in low back pain (LBP)
patients is an area of increasing interest…a chicken and egg
scenario that remains unresolved. In an occupational setting,
preventive and rehabilitative efforts relative to LBP and manual
material handling are often directed toward proper technique
(during lifting and lowering, for example).
Breath control may be an additional factor to consider. Optimizing breath
control may provide increased segmental control of the spine through the
production of increased intra-abdominal pressure. In this study,
32 subjects with LBP and aged-matched healthy individuals (n =
30) lowered a crate from a table to the floor four times with the
crate empty and four times with the crate loaded at 25% of body
weight. The amount of volume in the lungs as a percentage of
each individual’s vital capacity (VC) was identified at nine points
during the lowering task.
Subjects with LBP completed the lowering task with significantly
more volume in their lungs (45.9% VC) than their healthy
counterparts (40.9% VC). Further, with increasing age, %VC
significantly increased in those with LBP. In addition, %VC
significantly increased in response to the mechanical challenges
introduced when lowering a load.
Comments: Although further research is required, the findings in this
study suggest that those with LBP employ different breathing
strategies during a lowering task. Further research could
investigate different aspects of breathing (EMG patterns, intraabdominal
pressure?), but these results do support the
theoretical link between breath control and lumbar segmental
control, while providing preliminary evidence supporting
those with LBP.