Unilateral ankle immobilization alters the kinematics and kinetics of lifting
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BACKGROUND: Theoretical and empirical data support the notion that distal lower extremity joint dysfunction could influence the low-back injury potential of workers, but the impact of unilateral ankle immobilization on low-back loading during lifting has yet to be examined. OBJECTIVE: To examine the influence of unilateral ankle immobilization on the kinematics and kinetics of lifting. METHODS: With and without their right ankle immobilized, 10 men performed laboratory-simulated occupational lifting tasks. Together with force platform data, three-dimensional kinematics of the lumbar spine, pelvis, and lower extremities were collected, and a dynamic biomechanical model was used to calculate peak compressive and shear loads imposed on the L4/L5 intervertebral joint. RESULTS: In comparison to the unaffected conditions, ankle immobilization generally resulted in less knee (0.001 ≤ p ≤ 0.07) and greater lumbar spine (0.001 ≤ p ≤ 0.35) sagittal motion when lifting. Associated with this compensatory movement strategy were greater L4/L5 anterior/posterior reaction shear forces (0.001 ≤ p ≤ 0.25). However, there were cases when individual compensatory movement strategies differed from the "group" response (i.e., subjects increased their sagittal knee motion on the affected side about 8% of the time); this resulted in increased peak L4/L5 joint compression forces without changing the peak L4/L5 anterior-posterior shear forces. CONCLUSIONS: Ankle dysfunction can alter the way in which individuals move and load their low-backs when lifting. The different ways in which individuals compensate for personal movement constraints could alter the potential site and mechanism of occupational low-back injury.
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