Torso loading via a harness method activates trunk muscles less than a hand loading method

Mark L. McMulkin, Jeffrey C. Woldstad, Richard E. Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


There is a need for data comparing muscle activity under equivalent moments at the torso using different loading methods. In torso biomechanics, it is often necessary to apply moments to people and then measure or predict the muscle activity in response to the external load. Alternative methods exist to generate moments including applying forces by a chest harness and loads held in the hands. The limitation of previous research has been to use only one of the loading methods, generally harness loading, assuming it produces muscle activity equal to when loads are held in the hands. The objective of the this study was to test if equivalent moments at L3/L4 applied to subjects through two loading methods resulted in the same muscle activity. Subjects maintained a static posture while attempting a combination of flexion/extension, lateral bending, and torsion to counter the external loads applied via hand and harness loading methods. Hand and harness loading did not result in equal muscle activity as measured by electromyographic techniques. The left and right latissimus dorsi had increases in activity (16-25%) when loads were held with the hands instead of applied via the harness. Increased activity for hand loading was also found for the left and right rectus abdominis (13-17%) and left external oblique (24%). The left and right erector spinae and right external oblique exhibited the same activity for both loading methods. The current findings indicate that studies of torso loading using a shoulder harness to create torso moments may be lowering activity of some torso muscles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)391-395
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomechanics
  • Chest harness
  • Low-back
  • Lumbar muscle groups

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Rehabilitation
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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