Objective: Whole-body vibration (WBV) exercise is progressively adopted as an alternative therapeutic modality for enhancing muscle force and muscle activity via neurogenic potentiation. So far, possible changes in the recruitment patterns of the trunk musculature after WBV remain undetermined. The main objective of this study was to evaluate the short-term effects of a single WBV session on trunk neuromuscular responses in patients with chronic low back pain (cLBP) and healthy participants.
Methods: Twenty patients with cLBP and 21 healthy participants performed 10 trunk flexion-extensions before and after a single WBV session consisting of five 1-minute vibration sets. Surface electromyography (EMG) of erector spinae at L2-L3 and L4-L5 and lumbopelvic kinematic variables were collected during the trials. Data were analyzed using 2-way mixed analysis of variance models.
Results: The WBV session led to increased lumbar EMG activity during the flexion and extension phases but yielded no change in the quiet standing and fully flexed phases. Kinematic data showed a decreased contribution to the movement of the lumbar region in the second extension quartile. These effects were not different between patients with cLBP and healthy participants.
Conclusions: Increased lumbar EMG activity after a single WBV session most probably results from potentiation effects of WBV on lumbar muscles reflex responses. Decreased EMG activity in full trunk flexion, usually observed in healthy individuals, was still present after WBV, suggesting that the ability of the spine stabilizing mechanisms to transfer the extension torque from muscles to passive structures was not affected.
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