Physical and cognitive exertion do not influence feedforward activation of the trunk muscles: a randomized crossover trial

  • Stijn Schouppe
  • Lieven DanneelsEmail author
  • Stefaan Van Damme
  • Sophie Van Oosterwijck
  • Tanneke Palmans
  • Jessica Van Oosterwijck
Research Article


Fatigue arises during everyday activities, diminishes movement performance, and increases injury risk. Physical (PE) and cognitive exertion (CE) can induce similar feelings of fatigue, but it is not clear whether these also similarly affect movement performance. Therefore, this study examined the influence of PE and CE on anticipatory postural adjustments (APAs) of trunk muscles, which are feedforward mechanisms that contribute to motor control and controlled movement. Rapid arm movement tasks (RAM) were used to induce APAs of the trunk muscles prior and following three experimental conditions in 20 healthy adults: seated rest without exertion (NE), a combined isometric modified Biering–Sörensen and static abdominal curl to induce PE, and a modified incongruent Stroop colour-word task to induce CE. Fatigue was assessed using self-reported measures, and APA onset latencies of the trunk muscles with surface electromyography. Statistical analyses revealed that neither PE nor CE influence APAs of the trunk. Therefore, it is hypothesized that the influence of fatigue on movement performance might not be through altered motor control, but rather by reduced motivation. However, the possibility that fatigue might influence other mechanisms which contribute to trunk motor control, such as APA amplitude and variability, cannot be excluded and need further examination.


Sensorimotor control Electromyography Anticipatory postural adjustments Exertion 



This work was supported by the Special Research Fund/Bijzonder Onderzoeksfonds (BOF) at Ghent University with an interdisciplinary grant (grant number BOF14/IOP/067). Sophie Van Oosterwijck is a PhD researcher supported by a research project grant from the Research Foundation—Flanders (FWO) received by Lieven Danneels and Jessica Van Oosterwijck (Grant Number G0B3718N). Jessica Van Oosterwijck is a Postdoctoral Fellow funded by the Research Foundation—Flanders (FWO) (grant number 12L5616 N).

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee (University Hospital Ghent/Ghent University) and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

All participants provided signed informed consent.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stijn Schouppe
    • 1
    • 2
  • Lieven Danneels
    • 1
    Email author
  • Stefaan Van Damme
    • 3
  • Sophie Van Oosterwijck
    • 1
  • Tanneke Palmans
    • 1
  • Jessica Van Oosterwijck
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.SPINE Research Unit Ghent, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health SciencesGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  2. 2.Pain in Motion International Research Group
  3. 3.Department of Experimental-Clinical and Health PsychologyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  4. 4.Research Foundation, Flanders (FWO)BrusselsBelgium

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