Physiological motion of the lumbar spine is a subject of interest for musculoskeletal health care professionals, as abnormal motion is believed to be related to lumbar conditions and complaints. Many researchers have described ranges of motion for the lumbar spine, but only a few have mentioned specific motion patterns of each individual segment during flexion and extension. These motion patterns mostly comprise the sequence of segmental initiation in sagittal rotation. However, an adequate definition of physiological motion of the lumbar spine is still lacking. The reason for this is the reporting of different ranges of motion and sequences of segmental initiation in previous studies. Furthermore, due to insufficient fields of view, none of these papers have reported on maximum flexion and extension motion patterns of L1 to S1. In the lower cervical spine, a consistent pattern of segmental contributions was recently described. In order to understand physiological motion of the lumbar spine, it is necessary to systematically study motion patterns, including the sequence of segmental contribution, of vertebrae L1 to S1 in healthy individuals during maximum flexion and extension.
This study aims to define the lumbar spines’ physiological motion pattern of vertebrae L1, L2, L3, L4, L5, and S1 by determining the sequence of segmental contribution and the sequence of segmental initiation of motion in sagittal rotation of each vertebra during maximum flexion and extension. The secondary endpoint will be exploring the possibility of analyzing the intervertebral horizontal and vertical translation of each vertebra during maximum flexion and extension.
Cinematographic recordings will be performed in 11 healthy male participants, aged 18-25 years, without a history of spine problems. Cinematographic flexion and extension recordings will be made at two time points with a minimum 2-week interval in between.
The study has been approved by the local institutional medical ethical committee (Medical Research Ethics Committee of Zuyderland and Zuyd University of applied sciences) on September 24, 2018. Inclusion of participants will be completed in 2020.
If successful, these physiological motion patterns can be compared with motion patterns of patients with lumbar conditions before or after surgery. Ultimately, researchers may be able to determine differences in biomechanics that can potentially be linked to physical complaints like low back pain. NCT03737227;

©Inge JMH Caelers, Toon FM Boselie, Kim Rijkers, Wouter LW Van Hemert, Rob A De Bie, Henk Van Santbrink. Originally published in JMIR Research Protocols (, 24.02.2020.