Electromyographic assessment of apple bucket intervention designed to reduce back strain

Giulia Earle-Richardson, Paul L. Jenkins, David Strogatz, Erin M. Bell, Andris Freivalds, Julie A. Sorensen, John J. May

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The authors previously developed an apple bucket that was modified by use of a hip belt to reduce muscle fatigue. The intervention of belt use was accepted by workers and shown not to interfere with productivity. However, use of this intervention did not appear to reduce muscle fatigue when measured by tests of voluntary muscle strength. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the intervention's effect on muscle fatigue employing surface electromyographic (EMG) amplitude. Amplitude measurements on 15 muscles were taken from 10 laboratory volunteers who were carrying a full bucket of apples, once while wearing the intervention belt and once without the intervention. These measurements were taken for seven different postures (four angles of trunk flexion (0°, 20°, 45°, 90°) and three raised-arm positions (both up, dominant up, non-dominant up)) common to apple harvest work. Participants were measured in these conditions both with the bucket carried in front and with the bucket carried to the side. Significant reductions in amplitude favouring the intervention were seen for 11 of the 15 muscles in models considering the four body flexion angles. Ten of these were of the middle and lower back. These control/intervention differences were seen with both bucket-carrying positions (front vs. side) and tended to increase with increasing flexion angle. In contrast, no significant intervention effects were observed in models considering treatment by arm-raised position. One significant main effect (upper trapezius, side bucket) showed an amplitude reduction in the treatment condition. Another main effect showing increased amplitude in the intervention condition use was observed in the dominant levator scapulae (side bucket). Thus, the use of the intervention belt reduces EMG amplitude among a number of mid- and lower-back muscles. This is suggestive of a protective effect against back strain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)902-919
Number of pages18
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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