Understanding the Active Straight Leg Raise (ASLR): An electromyographic study in healthy subjects

H. Hu, O.G. Meijer, S.M. Bruijn, R.L.M. Strijers, P.W.B. Nanayakkara, B.J. van Royen, W Wu, C. Xia, J.H. van Dieen

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The Active Straight Leg Raise (ASLR) is an important test in diagnosing pelvic girdle pain (PGP). It is difficult to understand what happens normally during the ASLR, let alone why it would be impaired in PGP. In the present study, healthy subjects performed the ASLR under normal conditions, with weight added above the ankle, and while wearing a pelvic belt. Activity of the abdominal muscles, rectus femoris (RF), and biceps femoris (BF) was recorded with surface electromyography (EMG), and transversus abdominis (TA) with fine wire EMG. RF was ipsilaterally active, BF contralaterally, and the abdominal muscles bilaterally. All muscle activity was higher with weight, and abdominal muscle activity was lower with the pelvic belt. In both these conditions, TA and obliquus abdominis internus (OI) were more asymmetrically active than obliquus externus. The abdominal muscles engage in multitasking, combining symmetric and asymmetric task components. Hip flexion causes an unwanted forward pull on the ipsilateral ilium, which is counteracted by contralateral BF activity. To transfer this contralateral force toward ipsilateral, the lateral abdominal muscles press the ilia against the sacrum (" force closure" ). Thus, problems with the ASLR may derive from problems with force closure. Also abdominal wall activity counteracts forward rotation of the ilium. Moreover, contralateral BF activity causes transverse plane rotation of the pelvis, often visible as an upward movement of the contralateral anterior superior iliac spine. Such transverse plane rotation is countered by ipsilateral TA and OI. The present study facilitates the understanding of what normally happens during the ASLR. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)531-537
JournalManual therapy
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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