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October 2021

Effects of Age and Sex on Properties of Lumbar Erector Spinae in Healthy People: Preliminary Results From a Pilot Study

Authors: Zugui Wu 1, Yi Wang 1, Zixuan Ye 1, Yingxing Guan 1, Xiangling Ye 1, Zehua Chen 1, Congcong Li 1, Guoqian Chen 2, Yue Zhu 3, Jianping Du 4, Guocai Chen 5, Wengang Liu 1, 4, Xuemeng Xu 1, 4

Author information:

  1. The Fifth Clinical Medical College, Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine, Guangzhou, China
  2. Zhejiang Provincial Hospital of Chinese Medicine, Hangzhou, China
  3. Baishui Health Center, Qujing, China
  4. Guangdong Second Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital, Guangzhou, China
  5. Foshan Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine, Guangzhou, China

Journal: Frontiers in Physiology - September 2021, Volume 12, Article no. 718068 (DOI: 10.3389/fphys.2021.718068)

Background: The influences of age and sex on properties of lumbar erector spinae have not been previously studied. Changes in the performance of lumbar erector spinae properties associated with age represent a valuable indicator of risk for lower-back-related disease.

Objective: To investigate the lumbar erector spinae properties with regard to age and sex to provide a reference dataset.

Methods: We measured muscle tone and stiffness of the lumbar erector spinae (at the L3–4 level) in healthy men and women (50 young people, aged 20–30 years; 50 middle-aged people, aged 40–50 years; and 50 elderly people, aged 65–75 years) using a MyotonPRO device.

Results: In general, there are significant differences in muscle tone and stiffness among young, middle-aged, and elderly participants, and there were significant differences in muscle tone and stiffness between men and women, and there was no interaction between age and sex. The muscle tone and stiffness of the elderly participants were significantly higher than those of the middle-aged and young participants (P < 0.01), and the muscle tone and stiffness of the middle-aged participants were significantly higher than those of the young participants (P < 0.01). In addition, the muscle tone and stiffness of men participants were significantly higher than that of women participants (P < 0.01).

Conclusion: Our results indicate that muscle tone and stiffness of the lumbar erector spinae increase with age. The muscle tone and stiffness of the lumbar erector spinae in men are significantly higher than in women. The present study highlights the importance of considering age and sex differences when assessing muscle characteristics of healthy people or patients.

Figure 1. Measurement points and MyotonPRO probe contact measurement points.

From our results, we can make the following preliminary conclusions. The effect of aging on the properties of lumbar erector spinae recorded by MyotonPRO equipment shows that muscle tone and stiffness increase with age. Compared with middle-aged people and young people, the muscle tone and stiffness of the lumbar erector spinae of the elderly people are higher; compared with the young people, the muscle tone and stiffness of the lumbar erector spinae of the middle-aged people are higher. Properties of the lumbar erector spinae differ between sex. Muscle tone and stiffness of the lumbar erector spinae are higher in men than in women. This study provides a reference for muscle tone and stiffness of the lumbar erector spinae in young, middle-aged, and elderly healthy people. It is necessary to continue gathering data of other age groups, and to evaluate age as a continuous variable, to form a more complete reference database.

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