January 2022

Influence of Spinal Movements Associated with Physical Evaluation on Muscle Mechanical Properties of the Lumbar Paraspinal in Subjects with Acute Low Back Pain

Authors: Sandra Alcaraz-Clariana 1, Lourdes Garcia-Luque 1, Juan Luis Garrido-Castro 2, 3, Cristina Carmona-Perez 1, Daiana Priscila Rodrigues-de-Souza 1, Cesar Fernandez-de-las-Penas 4, 5, Francisco Alburquerque-Sendin 1, 3


  1. Department of Nursing, Pharmacology and Physical Therapy, Faculty of Medicine and Nursing, University of Cordoba, 14004 Cordoba, Spain
  2. Department of Computer Science and Numerical Analysis, Rabanales Campus, University of Cordoba, 14071 Cordoba, Spain
  3. Maimonides Biomedical Research Institute of Cordoba (IMIBIC), 14004 Cordoba, Spain
  4. Department of Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Rehabilitation and Physical Medicine, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Alcorcon, 28922 Madrid, Spain
  5. Catedra Institucional en Docencia, Clinica e Investigacion en Fisioterapia: Terapia Manual, Puncion Seca y Ejercicio Terapeutico, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Alcorcon, 28922 Madrid, Spain

Journal: Diagnostics - January 2022, Volume 12, Issue 2, Article no. 302 (DOI: 10.3390/diagnostics12020302)

This research aimed to identify changes in muscle mechanical properties (MMPs) when a standardized sequence of movements is performed and to determine the influence of acute low back pain (LBP) and age on the MMPs.

Socio-demographic, clinical variables and MMPs were collected in 33 patients with LBP and 33 healthy controls. A 2 × 2 × 2 (group × age × time) analysis of variance (ANOVA) mixed model was used to determine the effect of the study factors on the different MMPs. There were no significant triple interactions.

After the movements, tone and stiffness increased 0.37 Hz and 22.75 N/m, respectively, in subjects <35 years, independent of their clinical status. Relaxation showed differences by age in healthy subjects and creep in LBP subjects. Furthermore, elasticity was higher in <35 years (p < 0.001) without the influence of any other factor.

In conclusion, sequenced movements can modify tone and stiffness as a function of age, while age-associated changes in viscoelastic characteristics depends on pain but not on movements. The MMPs should be assessed, not only at the beginning of the physical examination at rest, but also along the patient’s follow-up, depending on their pain and age, in a clinical setting.


Keywords: myotonometry, thixotropy, viscoelasticity, spinal pain

A sequenced spinal movement protocol can modify lumbar paraspinal tone and stiffness according to the patient’s age but not according to the presence of LBP. The changes in viscoelastic characteristics of lumbar muscles depend on age and the presence or absence of pain, but not on the performance of the sequenced movements. Older subjects showed less elasticity than younger ones at the L5 spinal level, independent of their condition.

The MMPs should be assessed in a clinical setting, not only at the beginning of the physical evaluation during rest, but also during the patient’s follow-up, with special attention to elder subjects and those with pain.