Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Comparing lumbo-pelvic kinematics in people with and without back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Robert A Laird15*, Jayce Gilbert2, Peter Kent34 and Jennifer L Keating1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Physiotherapy, Monash University, PO Box 527, Frankston, VIC 3199, Australia

2 Peak MSK Physiotherapy, Suite 4/544 Hampton St, Hampton, VIC 3188, Australia

3 Department of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics, University of Southern Denmark, Odense 5230, Denmark

4 Research Department, Spine Centre of Southern Denmark, Lillebaelt Hospital, Institute of Regional Health Services Research, University of Southern Denmark, Middelfart 5500, Denmark

5 7 Kerry Rd, Warranwood, Melbourne, VIC 3134, Australia

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2014, 15:229  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-15-229

Published: 10 July 2014



Clinicians commonly examine posture and movement in people with the belief that correcting dysfunctional movement may reduce pain. If dysfunctional movement is to be accurately identified, clinicians should know what constitutes normal movement and how this differs in people with low back pain (LBP). This systematic review examined studies that compared biomechanical aspects of lumbo-pelvic movement in people with and without LBP.


MEDLINE, Cochrane Central, EMBASE, AMI, CINAHL, Scopus, AMED, ISI Web of Science were searched from inception until January 2014 for relevant studies. Studies had to compare adults with and without LBP using skin surface measurement techniques to measure lumbo-pelvic posture or movement. Two reviewers independently applied inclusion and exclusion criteria, and identified and extracted data. Standardised mean differences and 95% confidence intervals were estimated for group differences between people with and without LBP, and where possible, meta-analyses were performed. Within-group variability in all measurements was also compared.


The search identified 43 eligible studies. Compared to people without LBP, on average, people with LBP display: (i) no difference in lordosis angle (8 studies), (ii) reduced lumbar ROM (19 studies), (iii) no difference in lumbar relative to hip contribution to end-range flexion (4 studies), (iv) no difference in standing pelvic tilt angle (3 studies), (v) slower movement (8 studies), and (vi) reduced proprioception (17 studies). Movement variability appeared greater for people with LBP for flexion, lateral flexion and rotation ROM, and movement speed, but not for other movement characteristics. Considerable heterogeneity exists between studies, including a lack of detail or standardization between studies on the criteria used to define participants as people with LBP (cases) or without LBP (controls).


On average, people with LBP have reduced lumbar ROM and proprioception, and move more slowly compared to people without LBP. Whether these deficits exist prior to LBP onset is unknown.

Low back pain; Movement disorders; Posture; Range of movement; Lordosis; Proprioception